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What else I talked myself into when I talked about blogging

Now that the haiKU street poetry project is complete,  the teaching qualification is ratified, and behind the fridge could not be cleaner  I can no longer defer this blog project – as is my techno-retarded wont.  I enjoy computers as much as I do overcooked liver so this may be a little scrappy for a while but I’m hoping to work it out, day by day.

 

threesixfivestory – A year devoted to short story writing, and reading, and some thinking if not absolute understanding.

The mission: to find one new story a day,  read it and blog something about it.

A story may be 6 words or 60 pages – there are no limits beyond the vagaries which define short story writing itself.

 

Let’s see what kind of narrative web spins over the next four seasons, where the journey will lead us and what connections may entwine themselves along the imagined road.

 

It would be very pleasing to have some company along the way.

laters,

Stuart

day 366 – the round up

 

 

 

 

Some have expressed a small disappointment, even surprise, that 365 does not have a day 366.

A final send off, summing up –  it being a leap year and all. How well you’ve come to know me.

I did upload it last night as an entire new page rather than as a new post. Now here it is now as a post so that you can have it dropped conveniently into your inboxes.

 
I’ve covered some pages, posed a lot of questions and offered less answers. It’s been a lot of fun.

 

If I were to pick out a few favourites, in no particular order:

ZZ Packer,  Cees Nooteboom, Junot Diaz, Kurt Vonnegut, Lorrie Moore, Yiyun Li, Richard Yates,  Simon Van Booy

 

It’s been a pleasure to look back over all the blogs and to remember, in many instances, where I was and what was happening on each day. A satisfying feeling looking back and equally thrilling to look forward to the next project.

365 different stories from 243 different authors.

Here’s a look at them:

 

CEZARIJA ABARTIS The Writer
CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE The Arrangers of Marriage
JOSHUA ALLEN Classified
WOODY ALLEN The Rejection
MARTIN AMIS Denton’s Death
JANE ARCHER Stolen
MARGARET ATWOOD Underbrush Man
CHARLES AVERY The Fancy of the Hunter
JESSE BALL The Wedding
J.G.BALLARD Passport to Eternity
The Garden of Time
Track 12
JOHN BANVILLE Summer Voices
ELSPETH BARKER Missing
JULIAN BARNES A Short History of Hairdressing
KEVIN BARRY See The Tree, How Big It’s Grown
DONALD BARTHELME The Indian Uprising
JON BAUER Reward Offered
CAROL BAXENDALE The Flag
ALAN BEARD Staff Development
ANN BEATTIE Anecdotes
Starlight
LOUIS DE BERNIERES Rabbit
ALISON BOOTH The Clouds
F.M.J. BOTHAM The Pits
ELIZABETH BOWEN Summer Night
PAUL BOWLES How Many Midnights
T.C.BOYLE The Miracle at Ballinspittle
SCOTT BRADFIELD Men and Women In Love
Sweet Ladies, Good Night, Good Night
MAEVE BRENNAN An Attack of Hunger
HAROLD BRODKEY The State of Grace
WILL BUCKINGHAM The Lady Empress
CHRISTOPHER BURNS Foreigner
JOHN BURNSIDE Slut’s Hair
DUNCAN BUSH Bigamy
S.J.BUTLER The Swimmer
SAM BYERS Some Other Katherine
CLARE BYLAN Villa Marta
ARNO CAMENISCH Sez Ner
TRUMAN CAPOTE Mr. Jones
Music For Chameleons
JOHN CARROLL Some Come Running Through
RAYMOND CARVER Are These Actual Miles?
I Could See The Smallest Things
Mr. Coffee and Mr. Fixit
One More Thing
LUCY CALDWELL Carry Me Home
JOHN CHEEVER The Enormous Radio
ANTON CHEKHOV About Love
ROBERT COOVER The Romance of The Thin Man and The Fat Lady
TAMSIN COTTIS What Goes Around
ROALD DAHL Skin
The Wish
DAVID DEPHY Before The End
ANNE DEVLIN Naming the Names
JUNOT DIAZ Boyfriend
How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl or Halfie
Ysrael
DES DILLON The Blue Hen
EILIS NI DHUIBHNE Midwife to the Fairies
EMMA DONOGHUE The Hunt
RODDY DOYLE The Pram
DAPHNE DU MAURIER And Now to God The Father
A Difference of Temperament
The Doll
HELEN DUNMORE At The Hare and Hounds
TRICIA DURDEY Queen of Puddings
GEOFF DYER Art Deco Despair
Playing With
ELEANOR EDMOND The Names of Horses
ROBERT EDRIC Moving Day
JENNIFER EGAN Emerald City
One Piece
Spanish Winter
LOUISE ERDRICH Nero
AHMED ERRACHIDI A Handful of Walnuts
SARAH ROSE ETTER Stolen Fat Baby
BRIAN EVENSON A Conversation with Brenner
Calling The Hour
Hebe Kills Jarry
House Rules
Killing Cats
Muller
Shift-Work
The Munich Window
White Square
SHANTA EVERINGTON Hang Up
MICHEL FABER A Hole With Two Ends
Explaining Coconuts
ASHLEY FARMER Where Everyone is a Star
SEBASTIAN FAULKS A Family Evening
LORNA FESTER Deja Vous
MICHAEL OWEN FISHER The Doughnut
F.SCOTT FITZGERALD Pat Hobby’s Secret
MYRIAM FREY Divine Intervention
RIVKA GALCHEN Appreciation
GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ Death Constant Beyond Love
I Sell My Dreams
Light is Like Water
LIAM GILLICK Overview
SALENA GODDEN Juicy Fruit
MARK GODFREY The Magpie
NIVEN GOVINDEN Slaughterhouse Hospitality
NADINE GORDIMER Homage
REBECCA GOWERS A Small Room
GUNTER GRASS Witnesses of An Era
ALISDAIR GRAY Money
GRAHAM GREENE The Innocent
STEPHEN GRAY Formerly
MOSHIN HAMID Terminator: Attack of The Drone
DANIEL HANDLER Arguably
LANDER HAWES Differences in Lifts
RUSSELL HELMS The Miracle of Mrs Evelyn Howard
ERNEST HEMINGWAY A Simple Enquiry
Cat in The Rain
Fathers and Sons
I Guess Everything Reminds You of Something
One Reader Writes
The Doctor and The Doctor’s Wife
The Good Lion
AMY HEMPEL Breathing Jesus
Celia is back
Church Cancels Cow
In A Tub
The Lady Will Have The Slug Louie
Weekend
Why I’m Here
ANN HILLESLAND About My Mother
LAREN HITCHCOCK Blackbirds Singing
NICHOLAS HOGG How The Tiger Got Its Stripes
Picnic
HELEN HUDSON Taxi Ride
M.J.HYLAND Rag Love
JOEL THOMAS HYNES Little Creatures
KAZUO ISHIGURO Cellists
Crooner
KRISTEN ISKANDRIAN Remarks my immigrant mother has made about babies
RAYDA JACOBS The Guilt
TANIA JAMES Lion and Panther in London
MILJENKO JERGOVIC Theft
DENIS JOHNSON Work
GAYL JONES White Rat
JAMES JOYCE Eveline
The Boarding House
MIRANDA JULY How To Tell Stories to Children
I Kiss A Door
Making Love in 2003
Ten True Things
The Moves
This Person
CLARE KEEGAN Men and Women
A.L. KENNEDY .True
CATE KENNEDY Static
JAMAICA KINCAID The Circling Hand
MARIJA KNEZEVIC Without Fear of Change
NICOLE KRAUSS Stones and Artichokes
GERDUR KRISTNY The Ice People
HANIF KURESHI Weddings and Beheadings
NEIL LABUTE Layover
Maraschino
Ravishing
Wait
Whitecap
PHILIP LANGESKOV Notes on a Love Story
MARY LAVIN Lilacs
D.H.LAWRENCE England, My England
HEATHER LEACH So Much Time in Life
JOHN LE CARRE The King Who Never Spoke
J.ROBERT LENNON Big Idea
Different
Get Over It
Live Rock Nightly
Silence
Sickness
The Dream Explained
The Letters
The Mothers
Tool
Trust Jesus
Witnesses
ELLEN LESSER Escort
DEBORAH LEVY The Weeping Machines
NELL LEYSHON Cows
YIYUN LI A Man Like Him
Gold Boy, Emerald Girl
House Fire
Sweeping Past
DEAN LILLEYMAN Yes!
MARITTA LINTUNEN Passiontide
KIRSTY LOGAN The Rental Heart
DAVID LONG Bonfire
AMY MACKELDEN AND LAURA TANSLEY Chemistry
MICHAEL J. MACLEOD Horn Hunter
CLAUDIO MAGRIS To Have Been
PAUL MAGRS Patient Iris
VANESSA MANKO The Interrogation
MELISSA MANN Gottle O’Geer
KATHERINE MANSFIELD Marriage A La Mode
HILARY MANTEL Comma
Winter Break
ADAM MAREK Dinner of The Dead Alumni
AMBER MARKS Pulp Faction
CLARE MASSEY Feather Girls
REBEKAH MATTHEWS MILF
GUY DE MAUPASSANT A Woman’s Confession
Coward
Love
EUGENE McCABE Music at Annahullion
COLUM McCANN Everything in This Country Must
MICHAEL McCLAVERTY The Road to The Shore
IAN McEWAN Reflections of A Kept Ape
BERNIE McGILL No Angel
LINDA McVEIGH All Over the Place
JUNE MELBY A Whale Goes to Heaven
In Soup
PAULINE MELVILLE Tuxedo
BEN MERRIMAN A Hard Place to Love
ADRIAN MILLER News
ARTHUR MILLER Bulldog
ALISON MOORE When the Door Closed, It Was Dark
LORRIE MOORE Referential
Starving Again
You’re Ugly, Too
THOMAS MORRIS Lost Cause
EWAN MORRISON Taking Care of Number One
IRIS MOULTON Litter
ES’KIA MPHAHLELE Down The Quiet Street
VAL MULKERNS Memory and Desire
ALICE MUNRO Walker Brothers Cowboy
HARUKI MURAKAMI Landscape with Flatiron
VLADIMIR NABOKOV First Love
ALIX NATHAN Move
NJABULO S. NDEBELE Death of A Son
GEOFF NICHOLSON Closed Palms
AUDREY NIFFENEGGER Moths Of The New World
CEES NOOTEBOOM Late September
The Furthermost Point
Thunderstorm
JOYCE CAROL OATES Banshee
KENZABURO OE Abandoned Children of This Planet
K.J.ORR The Human Circadian Pacemaker
DIRIYE OSMAN Ndambi
PHILIP O’CEALLAIGH Walking Away
FLANNERY O’CONNOR A Good Man is Hard To Find
The Life You Save May Be Your Own
Wildcat
FRANK O’CONNOR The Mad Lomasneys
JOSEPH O’CONNOR Mothers Were All the Same
SEAN O’FAOLAIN The Trout
PADDY O’REILLY How To Write A Short Story
PAUL O’SULLIVAN Due North
ZZ PACKER Brownies
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
SANTIAGO PAJARES Today
GRACE PALEY An Irrevocable Diameter
A Man Told Me The Story of His Life
Debts
The Burdened Man
PHILIPPE PARRENO The Underground Man
ROBERT PENN WARREN Blackberry Winter
REBECCA PERL Keep Your Belief Strong
WILLIAM PESKETT Confectionery
CARMEN PETACCIO Tornado
LUDMILLA PETRUSHEVSKAYA Revenge
JAYNE ANNE PHILLIPS Lechery
SYLVIA PLATH A Comparison
America! America!
The Wishing Box
GLEN POURCIAU Peach
ANNIE PROULX The Half-Skinned Steer
STEPHANIE REID 127 Permutations
NOELLE REVAZ The Children
DAN RHODES Chemicals
Drinking
Exploring
Features
Flowers
Glass
Glass Eyes
Jam
Laughing
Leaving
Lilac
Madrid
Milestones
Precious
Sailing
Snakes
Squeals
The Painting
Violins
Well
Words
KEITH RIDGWAY How to Drown
Sick as a Dog, Sad as an Angel
Shame
The First Five Pages
MICHELE ROBERTS Tristan and Isolde
MARY ROBISON Pretty Ice
CHRIS ROSE The Shoemaker General of Naples
DAVID ROSE Flora
PAMELA ROSENKRANZ As One
LEONE ROSS Love Silk Food
LEE ROURKE Catastrophe
Emergency Exit
EVA SALZMAN The Ice Cream Lady
POLLY SAMSON The Man Who Fell
GEORGE SAUNDERS The Wavemaker Falters
MARGARITA SHCHEGLOVA The Parsee’s Guest
HELEN SIMPSON The Squirrel
The Tree
Up At A Villa
BEN SLOTKY Real, Not Fake.
ALI SMITH Jenny Robertson, Your Friend is Not Coming
Text For The Day
The Third Person
The World With Love
SUSAN SONTAG The Letter Scene
ATIMA SRIVASTAVA Stanley
CATHY SWEENEY The Long Lost Father
YOKO TAWADA The Island of Eternal Life
PETER TAYLOR Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time
CHRISTIAN TE BORDO I Can Only Hope That He Still Believes In Redemption
Wake Up Body!
PAUL THEROUX Warm Dogs
R.S.THOMAS Running
WELLS TOWER Door in Your Eye
Leopard
The Brown Coast
ROSE TREMAIN The Closing Door
BARBARA TRAPIDO Frankie and Stankie
WILLIAM TREVOR Miss Smith
VALERIE TRUEBLOOD The Llamas
SIMON VAN BOOY Love Begins in Winter
The Coming and Going of Strangers
The Missing Statues
Tiger, Tiger
MARIO VARGAS LLOSA The Celt
DAI VAUGHAN Great-grandchild
Looted
SALLY VICKERS Epiphany
JACQUELINE VOGTMAN Letter from a Suicide to a Troll
SANNEKE VON HASSEL Pearl
KURT VONNEGUT Confido
Look at the Birdie
H.G. WELLS The Diamond Maker
EUDORA WELTY No Place for You, My Love
TESSA WEST Hours of Darkness
CLARE WIGFALL When The Wasps Drowned
CHARLES WILKINSON Recovery
D.W.WILSON The Dead Roads
BESS WINTER The Garnet Cave
JEANETTE WINTERSON Dog Days
CHRISTA WOLF Associations in Blue
TOBIAS WOLFF Next Door
Our Story Begins
GAO XINGJIAN The Temple
RICHARD YATES A Convalescent Ego
Bells in The Morning
No Pain Whatsoever
The Best of Everything
BANANA YOSHIMOTO Newlywed
BARRY YOURGRAU Dream from a Fisherman’s Boat
MABEL YU A Matter of Course

 

 

Thanks for all your comments, support and recommendations; and for sharing the journey.

Cheers,

Stuart

 

day 365 – love begins in winter, simon van booy

love begins in winter, simon van booy pp68

love begins in winter

london: beautiful books 2009

 

 

 

 

‘Actually, years mean nothing. It’s what inside them.’

 

 

Well, here we are in the midst of the two hottest days of the year, counting down 3 days to the start of the Olympics, meanwhile at the final season of this project. In the height of summer we dance an insignificant winter.

 

‘Outside, the afternoon – heavy with heat – listed like an old ship and people lolled from one side of the city to the other.’

 

For the 365th blog of the year I decided a while back that it would be on something from someone I love, a favourite among favourites –  and what makes it particularly special is that one year ago I had never heard of this guy.  And if he were the only thing that I had discovered over the past twelve months then it would have been worthwhile.

So, I have saved my best for last.  For my pure reading pleasure. The title, and opening, story from Simon Van Booy’s Love Begins in Winter. In my opinion, the best story in an exquisite collection.  It also happens to be the longest short story I have blogged during the year, at 68 pages – and every one holds something to be admired or adored.

Van Booy has written a lyric love poem, and sustained within it a clear driving narrative. And he has achieved this in prose. A remarkable and wondrous feat. A heart-gripping thing of beauty.

A story made up of 11 parts. We start with Bruno. This opening section is also the longest as we settle and get to know the man.

Parts II & III see a point of view switch, this is subtle  – what Van Booy does cleverly and discreetly is to take the point of view camera up, to zoom out so that it might be Bruno’s it might not be. The point of view becomes larger, more detached – first in space, and then also in time. Like that of a small bird, our eye’s view starts perching with Bruno, then alights to fly above looking down with an omniscient air. Before it swoops to land again in part IV – this time landing on Hannah.

A great skill, very well executed. Brings to mind James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On the Mountain, in which Baldwin also masters these discreetly switching and seamlessly segued points of view.

From that point on, we flit between him and her, dovetailing

Van Booy has a rare gift for the profound and poetic, and where he enters the arena of the big issues such as love, grief and memory he does so without confrontation but instead with a warm and enveloping reassurance.

Abstract emotions are tied into the small, palpable physical things of our lives. Just as they must be if we are to grasp any handle on them.

 

‘When it rains, even the most insignificant puddle is a map of  the universe.’

 

 

‘[When the performance ends…] the applause is deafening. I drip with sweat under the lights. Each drop holds it own tiny clapping audience.’

 

He seems to explain the previously unexplained, not to teach us new things but instead to lay bare before us what it is we already know. Which seems to me more important. What’s the point of gaining experience of life if we cannot recognise or apply it to realise that new things are just old things, anew.

 

‘Perhaps all my opinions of other people are all opinions of another self.’

 

 

When Bruno reflects with Hannah on memory, he offers  ‘Perhaps we hold on to our childhoods because we can’t hold on to each other.’

which seems to be beautiful and tragic, as so much is.

It also may, or may not, be true – or at least you might agree. I wonder if perhaps we hold on to our pasts because we can never hold on to our present.

 

 

 

Bruno also declares  ‘Los Angeles is a place where dreams balance forever on the edge of coming true.’

Yeah. Los Angeles or tomorrow.

 

 

Bruno is a cellist, and performs as Van Booy’s witness to life’s lessons through his experience and his emotions bound in music.

‘I think music is what language once aspired to be. Music allows us to face god on our own terms because it reaches beyond life.’

.

 

‘Music is only a mystery to people who want it explained. Music and love are the same.’

 

Music is to Bruno as a poem or a short story is to me.

 

 

Remarkable. Thought-provoking. Tender. Honest. Immensely enjoyable. Endlessly re-readable.

 

 

‘Love is like life but starts before and continues after – we arrive and depart in the middle.’

 

Yeah. Love and short stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

day 364 – litter, iris moulton

litter, iris moulton

american short fiction

http://www.americanshortfiction.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp%3bview=article&amp%3bid=123-web-exclu&amp%3bcatid=8-web-exclusives-archives

 

 

 

‘Asleep maybe, with one foot out the window like it was the ’60s again.’

 

Short, succinct, slightly macabre and having enough to make you want to go round again. To see what you might pick up a second time.

 

‘And sometimes animals with the red inside squeezed out like cinnamon toothpaste.’

 

Isn’t it amazing what gets left behind every day. And how we fail to notice it, until one day we are looking for something.

 

‘people would feel bad running over a bag of cats if they knew what was in it.’

 

 

‘The men in orange jumpsuits had all done something wrong.’

 

To stop, or to keep on driving?

 

 

For more: www.irismoulton.com

day 363 – one more thing, raymond carver

one more thing, raymond carver pp5

what we talk about when we talk about love

london: vintage 2009

(first published in US by Alfred Knopf,1981 and in UK by The Harvill Press, 1996)

 

 

‘ ” I’m going, that’s all I can say.” ‘

 

Quintessential Carver. Domestically confined dirty realism. And as so often features in Carver’s stories we have drinking, smoking and arguing. And more than one thing is broken. It all happens in three short scenes. Kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms. Pounding hearts of a household.

 

A four line paragraph sets the scene and tells us what will, or actually what has, happened – for this is told retrospectively. But this is no way takes the dramatic tension out of the event as it is revisited in the telling. And this also pure Carver, the crux of the story is not the dramatic event but the reflective (often tragic) minor note that plays as it fades to black.

Dialogue pushes the pace here, with two pages covering everything you need to know about the characters, their relationship, their tensions – past and present – and also the verbal battle that builds to a urgent crescendo.

 

And then, dialogue stops. We move scenes from the hot, frenetic clashes of the kitchen to the quiet space of the bedroom and the bathroom, privacy and solitude. With all the shouting finished, the silence is so much louder. Bravado and baiting from a drink-fueled man deflates to a forlorn and aimless boy.

 

‘ ” I’m going,” L.D. said. ” All right, I’m going right now.” ‘

The final scene witnesses the re-emergence of a man, now proud, power-stripped and pathetic. Stalling for time, silently hopeful of a reprieve.

‘ “This is it,” L.D. said. “This is good-bye.”

 

And we reassess how this happened all so quickly. The clues that suggest how this was a long time in coming. And really, who, might have been the trigger behind this parting shot?

 

‘She said no one could make her go.’

 

 

And Carver digs out the real life troubles of American mainstream domesticity that go on behind every other door, every other day, drags ’em kicking and screaming into the front yard, for all to see and hear. Before letting it burn out and quieten. And here’s us. Watching. Wondering. With nothing left to say.

 

As this story may represent American working class life, so the story may stand as one more thing among all of Carver’s stories:

 

‘Maxine said it was another tragedy in a long line of low-rent tragedies.

 

 

 

day 362 – about my mother, ann hillesland

about my mother, ann hillesland

prick of the spindle

http://www.prickofthespindle.com/fiction/5.2/hillesland/about_my_mother.htm

 

 

 

‘Everybody always asks about my mother. So talented!’

 

Well, what a delight. Like a double yolker on a Sunday morning, a walnut whip placed unexpectedly in your locker and a rainbow breaking through just in time for the photos.

 

‘Whenever she ripped a shirt or glove, she’d put it in the mending bag,though she never mended anything.’

 

Brief and beautiful. Feels honest and exact in each detail, magically poetic in its delivery.

‘to me her poetry always seems yellow-green, bisected by a stern red line.’

 

It is a rare gift to be able to make somebody laugh and yet render them almost tearful with such touching tenderness. Hooray for Ann Hillesland, and her mother, or the narrator’s mother, somebody’s mother, all our mothers.

 

Have you ever burnt a book?

‘The soft black ash was inches deep, the feathers of a midnight bird,’ 

 

 

A shining gem.

 

‘She was like a lion, roaring out of the ocean.’

 

 

 

 

 

day 361 – the celt, mario vargas llosa

the celt, mario vargas llosa pp22

granta 119

london: granta 2012

(translated by edith grossman)

 

‘He spoke English with an Irish accent, the cause of jokes among his cousins.’

 

So much to say, so little time – particularly given that my laptop’s adaptor gave up the electrical ghost this morning and it seems nobody has one in stock available today. Therefore, I haev no choice than to leg it to the library this afternoon before I go to work, as nothing will be open later and I can’t blog from home. Ho hum. These teeny trilas are sent to humour us and the show goes on.

 

That aside, here we have a fascinating story that’s real time setting is Pentonville prison, 1916 – during the first world war and not long after the Easter Uprising in Ireland.

Our protagonist, Roger Casement, finds himself in a tight spot, but not as tight as it will be in a couple of days unless his appeal petition for clemency is granted – then it will be as tight as a knotted rope and his body will be dancing at the end of it.

The story shifts in time ffrom scene to scene, taking us on a tour of his travels and travails inclduing his work throughout Africa and in particular in the Congo in 1903.

‘whether he believed’

Politics of the time are centre-stage and Roger’s allegiance to his birthplace of Ireland and his long-dead mother’s clandestine adherence to Catholicism has landed him in a spot of bother. This may, or may not, be unjust. However having lived life to a diligent principle and then to life potentially have thrown it away in blatant negligence, well, at least the the irony does not escape.

Engrossing. Textured, with an embracing sense of history, politics, personal and social conscience – not one of which are irrelevant to us today. In fact his notion of ‘Society’ as they aggressively exploit and dupe African tribal people in the name of the Empire seems to unnervingly relate to the hollow pledges of our current prime minister.

 

‘Commerce brought religion, morality, law, the values of a modern, educated , free and democratic Europe, progress that would ventually transform tribal unfortunates.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

day 360 – a matter of course, mabel yu

a matter of course, mabel yu

kenyon review

http://www.kenyonreview.org/kr-online-issue/2012-summer/selections/mabel-yu-342846/

 

 

 

‘As the metro hurtled into a tunnel, her disintegration began.’

 

A wonderful short piece, as packed with drama and atmosphere as a rush hour Tube train.

What punches immediately is the emotionless, derisory contempt with which the narrator condemns a sobbing woman’s public meltdown. We side with our narrator – appalling lack of self-control.

 

‘Didn’t she have the decency to crumple onto her living room couch like most people, or build a fort in a ladies room and wear out a roll of toilet paper?’

 

How awkward to bear witness to a private emotional collapse in such a confined public space.

‘There was nowhere else to move.’

 

Of course, the conflict arises in our narrator’s urgent wish to run far from this scene and the impossibility of doing so, until he arrives at his stop.
Where a new conflict reveals itself.

 

Great moments. Tightly ratcheted emotional drama. Sharply caught observations that beautifully marry exterior physical signs with interior psychological turmoil.

 

‘She paused to bite her knuckles, trying to pull more words out of her mouth.’

 

The story snakes around blind corners, one way and then another, as it slows to its final destination the emotional truth is there to meet us on the platform.

 

 

 

I wonder if we read blindly (without first knowing the author) how we would read the intuitively read a narrator’s gender. I thought she is a woman, but I wonder is that a pre-conceived notion solely based on the female author.

Reading again, I see no firm evidence either way. I read phrases that push and pull me both ways.

‘It must be a female thing, this sonar for sorrow.’

‘I didn’t want even our coats to touch.’

 

Does it matter? Of course not, but it’s fun to contemplate.

What do you think?

 

 

Classic short story ambiguity at in the finish. Leaves the mind turning, wondering, hoping and praying that he or she does this and not that. Why would they? How could they? Would I? It’s not that simple. And there we have it, one of life and love’s conundrums laid bare.