Monday, July 26, 2010

Thorofare - Susan Minot




Susan Minot – December 7, 1956 -

It’s impossible it seems to read so many short stories in a compacted period of time, and during such an emotionally charged section of my life, that I wouldn’t seem to think that I was encountering a solid theme emerging from the American Short Story.

I have encountered the “difficult pregnancy” story – (hasn’t helped with my thoughts on our own pregnancy).

The disabled child story (again, toying with my emotions during this time)

The single parent (my father and his struggle with Alzheimer’s...added to the feelings that most kids of the 70s and 80s have towards their father’s who left their family).

The unfaithful spouse (thankfully I can’t draw a “real life” parallel here!).

And finally, death and its impact on the family – no surprise here –

I seem to have come across quite a few of these stories in The Best American Short Stories collections.

Where is my parallel?

Well, I have both a step-father, a father and mother that all seem to be fixated on death – more pointedly, their death.

Discussions surrounding the health of my step-father and his continued time with us have also included the discussion of what we as a family will do when it’s his time to go. That discussion then turns to a discussion with my mother about what she wants to happen to her after she dies.

Then I have my father who obsesses during our visits with him about his long walk down death’s road with Alzheimer’s.

So, I encounter Thorofare and think “oh shit, another death story”.

I wholeheartedly agree that the story should have been included in the anthology. It’s a wonderful story.

It just came at a very sensitive time in my life.

A time where I have two fathers rounding out their lives while at the same time, M and I are preparing to bring another life into this world.

What I take away from this story is not the message of the story...but the timing that it appeared in my life. I could have read this story two years ago and it would not have had the impact that it did when I read it a couple of weeks ago.

Which makes me think – did Updike choose his stories based on the mood he was in that particular year, or was his selections made out of his ability to really recognize quality writing?

Possibly a little of both.

Everyday when we climb out of bed and stumble into the bathroom, piss, and then make our way downstairs to make our coffee – we are opening the book of our day.

We have no clue of the author or the work that we are about to encounter.

Just chalk this up as another reason why I love this anthology.

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