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Stories 190-192

How about three recent New Yorker short stories by white guys, that all have to do with deteriorating married life?

Story 190: The Dinner Party by Joshua Ferris, from the August 11-18, 2008 New Yorker.  I'm not familiar with Ferris' work, but this story made me want to read more.  A couple waits for another couple to come to dinner, and while they do we see the cracks in their relationship.  What starts out as playful banter becomes bitter when it becomes apparent the other couple is not coming.  The story doesn't exactly go where you think it's going to, and I like how Ferris essentially avoids the cliche the story could be; I also like how he avoids turning this into another "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" homage.

Story 191: The Lie by T. Corraghessan Boyle, from the April 14th, 2008 New Yorker.  I know I've reviewed a few Boyle stories here, and I really need to go out and get me an anthology of his stuff.  I know there's one called "Greasy Lake and other stories," and I know I read that title story years ago.  This particular story revolves around a man who doesn't feel well and wants to skip work for the day without letting his wife in on the plan.  You can see the spiral forming in the drain long before he does, and yet you also somehow sort of hope he's going to get away with it and it will all work out in the end.

Story 192: Awake by Tobias Wolff, from the August 25th 2008 New Yorker.  Wolff is one of my favorite authors, and I'm eagerly anticipating savoring his new short story collection, which is half "greatest hits" and half "new material."  Unfortunately, like the Orson Scott Card collection I'm working my way through, it's just too bulky to take on the road with me.  In the meantime, I discovered this very short story lurking in The New Yorker.  It's not actually about a marriage, but about how one man, awake while his lover sleeps beside him, can go from aggravation with her to despair about himself without her saying anything at all.  It's a very "interior" piece, with not much action but lots of charactization.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
caffyolay
Sep. 21st, 2008 08:11 am (UTC)
Tobias Wolff... that name rings a bell. Ah yes... several book blogging friends have recently read his novel, Old School, and loved it.

Edited at 2008-09-21 08:11 am (UTC)
talekyn
Sep. 23rd, 2008 04:12 am (UTC)
I liked Old School, but prefer his short stories and memoirs (This Boy's Life and In Pharoah's Army)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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