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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Story with the emotive force of a poem: Story, with Bird

Kevin Canty's story Story, with Bird is a sorrowful little piece in the current New Yorker, a very short story about a breakup of a marriage, or relationship at any rate, evidently doomed from the start, narrated by a hard-drinking, cigarette-smoking, Auden reading man looking back wistfully on the failed and broken relationship: his wife or mate, a poet, suggests they're drinking too much and they go on the wagon together but then she slips off, indicating it was his problem not hers, ha, and soon they're both drinking again, which leads to good sex but otherwise poor communications; she goes off to a wedding in California where, he later learns, she hooks up with an old beau; he's left at home reading poetry and drinking. Narrator reminds me a little of Carver - we don't know that he's working class, we know little about him except thru his narrative voice, but he seems like a Carveresque character, tough, sensitive, a little on the outside - esp in what appears to be a university town (he may also be a professor, or she may be - again, very little factual info about either). The bird is the "objective correlative" in the story: a bird gets into their house - twice, actually, possibly the same bird - and the struggle to get rid of the bird - opening windows and turning out lights so it can fly to freedom, or just whacking it with a broom - is somehow carrying a lot of symbolic weight here: freedom v destruction, the story of many a relationship, actually. The bird contrasts with a buck that appears poolside one steamy night when they have very sensual sex half in water half in air - the buck watching them mysteriously. Their relationship is somehow bordered by nature, but definitely apart from it: they struggle w/ words, with addictions, and with missed connections. Nice story, a brief glimpse retrospectively into a life - has the sorrow and suggestiveness of a poem (though I don't know if Auden would be the poet I'd most associate with this story).

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