Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Summer of Shorts Episode 4: Edward Porter and Cargo Shorts


This week we welcome back Dave Housley (Barrelhouse editor, Grateful Dead fan, author of the forthcoming If I Knew The Way, I Would Take You Home) to discuss Edward Porter’s story from Issue 11 of Barrelhouse, “The White Guy’s Guide to Marrying a Black Woman.” We talk about the story’s second-person voice, and how it both uses and transcends its “how-to” conceit. We also provide a peek inside the editorial process, and what makes a submission stand out in the queue.

Note: You can find a linked .pdf version of the story at the bottom of this post.


We’re also, of course, continuing our encyclopedic exploration through the world of shorts. We debate the relative coolness of cargo shorts, and when we, as a culture, reached “peak cargo.” We also discuss the rise of camouflage cargo, and the brief period during which all men’s bathing suits had extra cargo pockets. Whatever your opinion of pockets, I think we can all agree there is no reason for these things to exist:


Also this week, Mike finally drives Tom crazy, via the musical stylings of the band Phish. If only this were a video podcast, you could see some pretty sweet white-guy dance moves. Alas, you’ll just have to use your imagination.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file. Or, visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe to the show (for free!) and never miss another installment. We also welcome your feedback on what we talked about: you can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment on this post.


Download Summer of Shorts #4 (right-click, save-as)

Ed Porter – The White Guy’s Guide To Marrying a Black Woman (pdf)


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

3 thoughts on “Summer of Shorts Episode 4: Edward Porter and Cargo Shorts

  1. Great story, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The first page set me up for something in the vein of the brilliant Stuff White People Like, but Porter’s story really went way beyond a snide “humour” piece. This is the best story I’ve read in quite awhile.

    Not sure what I think about the second person voice and how successful it was. I don’t agree with the comments you made in the podcast about the writing being in the style of a “How-To” manual. The scenes were so well drawn and the characters felt so real and engaging, that the second person voice wound up becoming invisible. I bet if you gave this story to 10 people and quizzed them an hour later most wouldn’t remember what voice it was in. I knew I was reading and experiencing these specific people.

    I wonder how much of the story is drawn from the writer’s real life. If I had read the story cold, I think I would have just assumed it was a personal essay, but you guys referred to it as fiction. I’m reminded of some of the discussion you had about last month’s story ‘Werner” and the blurring between what is a fiction and non-fiction.

    Great choice. Thanks for bringing this awesome story to my attention.

  2. Thanks for reading, Chris! We’re just happy more people have a chance to read and discuss Ed’s story.

  3. You aren’t wrong. In practice, Tyler Perry’s movies are very problematic. The women in the films are usually very one dimensional and, yes, there is a lot of moralizing about women’s sexuality in the films.

    As for the short story, when you guys introduced it as one written in second person, my mind immediately went to Junot Diaz’s work, “How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie).” Because I’m always entertained by that story, I now feel the need to check out Edward Porter’s story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s