Ron Carlson is a master of the contemporary short story. In "The Blue Box," he extends that mastery to the "short short" story, offering us a captivating glimpse of a writer at play. With that voice of his--sharp, sensitive, and wry, brimming with good humor--Carlson inhabits one standby after another of the American pop landscape, past and present: monster flicks, action heroes, unsupervised teenagers, blogging. Coming in for special scrutiny is the world of education, in hilarious send-ups of recommendation letters, teacher evaluations, style guides, and a MOOC. Whimsical, wistful, and gently surreal, "The Blue Box" delights in life's unending absurdities, and reminds us not to take anything--especially ourselves--too seriously.