Short Stories All the Time

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

09 January, 2017

Alice Munro, "Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You"

The story is divided into fifteen sections and runs about twenty pages. The period of time covered is circa 1910 to sometime well after 1942. The story is of a sister, Et, and her prettier sister, Char. It's told from Et's third-person POV. Their little brother, Sandy, had drowned at about age seven. Mother never recovered and is pretty much absent in the story. Et never married and Char had one miscarriage and never was pregnant again. Char's husband, Arthur, was smitten with Char but close friends with Et. The boy whose parents ran the hotel, Blaikie, was in and out of the story. During teenage years, Char and Blaikie were involved. Blaikie went away, married twice, returned and spent time with Et, Char, and Arthur. Char was bulimic and no one ever knew except Et. After Blaikie went away and married the ventriloquist, Char attempted suicide by drinking laundry blueing which she thought was poisonous. This was a secret that Et never told anyone, but all through the years, she'd thought about telling Arthur, Char's husband. Also, Et found rat poison that she assumed Char planned on using at some point. The story structure goes back and forth in time and the events and relationships and timing are quite involved. However, the basic theme of the story, for me, is that people have predilections and weaknesses and secret ideas or plans and there's not much to be done about them. One can meddle and tattle but what good comes of that. People believe what they want to believe about people they love or are infatuated with.

"Sometimes Et had it on the tip of her tongue to say to Arthur, 'There's something I've been meaning to tell you,' She didn't believe she was going to let him die without knowing. He shouldn't be allowed."

"Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You" was first published in 1974.