Friday, November 12, 2010

"One Day in the Life of Mrs, Riley." Maureen Pople.

Short Story International. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. New York: Great Neck, vol. 5, #27, August 1981, pp. 9-15.

Summary: Everyone expects Mr. Riley to die. He’s demanding, obnoxious. His sons have never amounted to anything because they are just like their father. Mrs. Riley goes about the house preparing for his funeral, which is expected any time soon. Finished cleaning the house to what she perceives as her relatives’ expectations, she climbs the stairs to take a nap. She thinks, “He’s[Mr. Riley] settled down and the house is clean. They’ll [the relatives] be here by six. There’s nothing more I can do. And she slept.”

“The family arrived at six and found Mr. Riley, as usual, banging his stick on the floor for his dinner, and Mrs. Riley…for the very first time…not answering.”

“The funeral was held two days later. Mrs. Riley looked splendid and not one of the family had a word of criticism.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"To the Measures Fall." Richard Powers.

The New Yorker (October 18, 2010), 72-77.

Summary: In and out of the world of books throughout her life. Early in her academic career, interested in a controversial writer named Wentworth. Plans to do a dissertation on him.

“Mistaking books for life.”

Through the decades she shifts from one interest to another, including the Internet, but she again returns to her interest in books.

What do books amount to? A life wasted on them. They occasionally elucidate life, but mostly books are about other worlds. Not hers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"The Tree Line., Kansas, 1934." David Means.

I'm back. RayS.

The New Yorker (Oct. 25, 2010), 75-77.

Two agents. Waiting on the tree line watching the farm’s fields for signs that a crook named Carson has returned to his relative’s farm where he has buried some loot.

The boring nature of the wait, but afraid not to stop watching for fear that Carson would suddenly appear. Monotony. The time is taken up by the younger agent, streaming his thoughts endlessly on his theories about what was happening with Carson. The older agent listens without hearing, busy with his own thoughts, critical of the younger agent’s naiveté.

Certain that Carson would not show up, the younger agent stands up and walks out of the tree line, to be blasted away by Carson and his men.