Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday Optional Reading: Cheever Again!

This week's optional reading is the same as last week's: John Cheever's "The Country Husband." Most folks didn't get a chance to get to it last week—which was fine, as it was optional. But I'd love it if you could try to read it this week, and focus on the ending in particular: the paragraphs beginning with the lines "It is a week or ten days later in Shady Hill."

As you read, look for images and ideas he has picked up from earlier in the story. The elephants crossing the mountains is one. Can you spot more? 

And what about the tone of this section? I re-read it just now and was shocked to find no mention of gin in it! In the softened, sentimental, and achingly sad quality of the end--the section beginning with the line "It is a week or ten days later in Shady Hill"--I always get a strong sense of drunkenness--and I feel pretty sure that Francis Weed, like Cheever himself, and probably every other other suburban dad in the 1950s, would be a little drunk at that hour, so I was surprised to note that it doesn't actually say that in the story--the image of him holding a cocktail is so vivid in my mind. Isn't it funny how that can happen? What do you think of the tone? 

This is my favorite line: 

"The village hangs, morally and economically, from a thread; but it hangs by its thread in the evening light."

 Here's the story again:

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