Friday, November 4, 2016

Write the Story @ Ferguson Library: Friday Optional Assignments: Stakes, Goals, and Omission

This week's reading is "A Country Husband" by John Cheever. There are so many angles from which we could approach this story, but since we'll be talking about stakes and goals in our next class, and how those ideas can help shape your revision, that's what I'll ask you to look for as you read. 

What is the main character's goal in this story? Does it change? 

What's at stake for him; that is, what does he stand to gain or lose depending on whether he achieves his goals? 

Just hold these questions loosely in your mind as you read and enjoy this great story of midcentury middle-class midlife crisis from the Ovid of Ossining

Read "A Country Husband" by John Cheever

And here's the essay mentioned in the last class: "Writing by Omission," by John McPhee, which will also transport you back to the upper-middle-classy part of the middle of the last century. One of my favorite parts of this article is this quote from Ernest Hemingway:
“If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.”
Have a look, too, at what McPhee says about the practice of "greening," which he learned in his days as a writer at Time, and which he now uses in revision exercises for his class at Princeton. 

Cover of the issue of The New Yorker in which "The Country Husband" first appeared: November 20, 1954

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