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

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Friday, December 12, 2014

New Yorker story starts quite well but then - I haven't a clue

Another relatively new writer - I had not read her before, anyway - in current New Yorker, with story with the funny allusive title Savage Breast, by Elizabeth McKenzie, starts off like a Lorrie Moore story, kind of, 20-something single woman comes home after hard week at office, ditching a gathering of friends, wanting nothing more than to crash at her lonely apt. - the first line has the Moore-ish slightly off-kilter slanginess: It was a good day, to a point. I love that "to a point" - not "up to a point" and not "to a degree." In any case, she enters the apartment and it seems almost as if she's mugged: a furry hand against the wall, sudden blackness, and then - we're in a completely different story, a Kafkaesque metamorphosis, but reverse Kafka actually as she doesn't change - everything around her does. She's been transported back to her childhood home and family, but instead of her family members the family is of some unknown furry beast. They recognize her and accept her, and she's filled with childhood yearnings and regrets, as the beasts give her a supportive love and affection she'd never had from her real family, who are either gone of more or less out of her "present" life. As with so many stories (and novels), however, McKenzie does not go anywhere with this startling premise, as the story proceeds rather like a dream: the beasts have to leave town suddenly, they all get on a bus, go out to a desert, start digging holes, begin to die off - I don't know what this is about, to be honest. Is she after some kind of apocryphal allegory? An environmental riff about the death of species? I just haven't a clue. At the end, the narrator, watching the beast die off, is full of longing and regret (about what we don't know - about her unfulfilled life and loss of connection?) and she utters a plaintive cry, something like, Oh, history - a possible glancing reference to Melville's Oh Bartleby, Oh humanity?

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