Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.

03 December, 2010

Tobias Wolff, "Say Yes"

"Say Yes" by Tobias Wolff is a short story, about 1500 words, written in a close third person POV of the husband. Ann, his wife, asked him why he didn't think white people should marry black people. Washing dishes together, this became the topic which the wife would not let him drop. As Ann delved into the topic with specific examples, the husband became more frustrated. In the course of washing dishes, she cut her thumb, not seriously, and the husband hoped the subject would be dropped. It wasn't.

I like the way blood was included so naturally into the story, especially just one drop. It reminded me of the racist idea that one drop of black blood would dirty white blood.

The story is ultimately, I think, about how people do or do not ever really know another person.

Tobias Wolff read this story and it is posted on the Huffington Post website. In this reading, Wolff deleted three or so scattered sentences and an entire paragraph toward the end.

This story was first published in The Missouri Review where it was titled "Washing Up" and subsequently in Our Story Begins.

Tobias Wolff reading "Say Yes"