"Nativity, Caucasian," Allan Gurganus (from White People)
My first exposure to Gurganus came via the radio program Selected Shorts, which broadcast a reading of his story "The Doctor." (I think that's the title.) While the story was simultaneously obvious and unlikely, I appreciated the way the tale was told and the clarity of vision. Some years later, I ordered this collection. There's not much to "Nativity, Caucasian." It's the story of the narrator's birth, taking place in the middle of a contract bridge party. The host's Pekingese is doused with birthwaters, dishes and women fall to the floor, ambulance and fire truck collide en route, and two doctors knowing nothing of childbirth arrive late to the scene from the nearby golfcourse and attempt to attend to the wrong (albeit unconscious) woman. It's an amusing set-piece, finely told, and a record of a people and time.