Friday, June 26, 2009

Little Oscar and I have been catching up on our short fiction reading in The New Yorker

Little Oscar and I Reading an E. L. Doctorow Story in an Old 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.

1 comment:

Dr Bud "Simply Write Cancel on the Invoice" Diablo said...

Your little wind-up chicken shares your reading habits. He's stuck on page 1 of the story.

I would encourage you to do what I have done many times. Lug the stacks of magazines out to the recycling bin and dump them in, if necessary dousing them with water first so you won't feel the pull to retrieve them. It will give you a cleansed, renewed feeling. You'll move about your dwelling with a lighter tread without those piles of NEW YORKERS silently rebuking you whenever you pass them or have to move them to clear space. Assuage your conscience by vowing that you will "keep up" henceforth, starting with the very next issue.