Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Change – Larry Woiwode



Larry Woiwode - October 30, 1941

The final story of this volume - and just by the luck of having a “W” beginning his last name, Calisher is able to leave us with a pleasant taste in our mouth as we finish this book.

Ordering the stories in these collections alphabetically by the authors last name is surely the most democratic way of presenting the stories but if I do feel it important for the volume editor to point out his/her favorite by placing them in the front of the book because I do not think that most readers of these collections read the book all the way through.

My assumption is that these books find their way onto bedside tables where they get buried under other “to read” books and I’m sure they are placed on the tanks of plenty of toilets where the stories are read during certain “duties”. It’s a shame that this was the last story of the book – it’s a real gem and I hope that more people seek it out.

Woiwode offers a strong story in “Change”. It should be no surprise given his talent and the popularity of his other writings. Today, he is a lesser known author and doesn’t seem to have survived (in the literature world) the early 80s.

One interesting little twist that I feel I must point out and that I am sure I will touch upon in a post concerning The BASS 1982.

Woiwode is the last author in this book. Again - last just because of his last name.

The next volume in The BASS, is of course 1982.

The volume editor for 1982 is John Gardner.

John Gardner died on September 14, 1982.

In addition to being the guest editor that year, he was the director of the Creative Writing Program at SUNY Binghamton.

Now the twist. - Who became the next director of that program after Gardner’s death?

Larry Woiwode.

Interesting.

Now, I’ll write about what passed through my head as I read and finished this wonderful story.

My thoughts are pretty far from the message that I think Woiwode was attempting to deliver – and I received it – but I’m not writing a story review.

I find myself reflecting once again on my father and his life, as his life and mind now seems to be closing in on itself like a dying star.

Just as the family next door to the main character in this short, my father grew up in a rough and tumble family.

Oldest of 4 kids – 2 younger brothers and a sister. They lived in what was considered the poorest part of Des Moines in a “Sears” house. I was told that his father ordered this house from Sears, and constructed on a chunk of land. A quick internet search yields up that yes, there were “Sears” houses...but I am certain that the houses in the catalog look nothing like what I remember seeing in the early 1990s.

My father ran in the alleys with a blonde Mohawk haircut – shoeless – cutoff shorts and most likely shirtless.

He got into fights, picked on kids and got into trouble – as one would expect a kid to do.

He would return home and sleep in the same bed with his brothers and the entire family would crowd around the table for meals where survival of the fittest came into play.

Several years ago, change came to my father’s old house just as change came to the family in the story.

The old white ‘Sears” house was demolished.

The destruction of the house had an impact on my father – I’m sure of it because he mentioned it quite often in the early days before he was officially diagnosed. It was one of those stories that he would tell over and over – and you’d just let him tell it because you figured that he was just getting old and “forget” that he told it several months prior.

Well – I suppose there was something more there – hidden deep inside.

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