In the New Yorker (January 17, 2005, p. 77), this short story by Lorrie Moore. It is wonderfully written, sliding into a dream/fantasy segment without blinking and then back out again (or maybe, who knows). It speaks of the academic life of a middle-aged (unmarried) woman. We are in her head.
Let me provide a quote. In the course of discussing the man she is dating and why he is also seeing another woman at the same time, her friend tells her “‘She’s probably just really good in bed'” and provokes this reaction:
At this my heart sickened and plummeted down my left side and into my shoe. My appetite, too, shrank to a small pebble and sat in stony reserve in the place my heart had been and to which my heart would at some point return, but not in time for dessert.
So you must read this now. And then read this story (which I haven’t had time to read yet so let me know if it’s as good as Juniper Tree, please).
And then stroll over to Salon for an interview with the author. (Also still to be read on this end.)