Friday, June 26, 2009
Little Oscar and I have been catching up on our short fiction reading in The New Yorker
Summertime is a good time to catch up on our short fiction reading. We browse through old copies of The New Yorker that pile up around the house and look for short stories we missed the first time around when we were too busy with the latest Seymour Hersh and other nonfiction. A raccoon was involved in this one, and a new pair of shoes at the end. It was called "Wakefield" and was in the Jan. 14, 2008 issue (yes, some of the stacks are pretty high). It's Doctorow's retelling (re-imagining, really) of a Nathaniel Hawthorne story of the same title, an account of what Hawthorne characterized as a "long whim-wham." The Doctorow story struck us as the more fully developed; the Hawthorne version was sketchier, more of a speculative idea for a story than an actual story. Doctorow's tale is a story of a disappearance that turns into a furtive, raccoon-like nocturnal existence, which combines elements of Kafka and Cheever, and which follows its protagonist on a quest as deranged and surreal as Cheever's "The Swimmer" undertook so memorably years ago.