Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 875, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Barrett. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barrett. Show all posts

05 December, 2016

Andrea Barrett, "Open House"

This story, "Open House," takes place in 1919 just before the 18th Amendment takes effect and makes prohibition the law of the land. The town in New York wine country has just made it through the influenza epidemic and WWI. The Durand family, after not hosting the previous year's open house party, hosts the annual thank you party for their employees and the town in general. Leon and Opal Durand run the largest winery in the Keuka Lake area. They have three grown sons, only one of whom is married, Didier. He has a son, Charlie, who is the only male to carry on the family name which is of concern to Nana, the matriarch. Slowly developed throughout the story is the complicated history of Didier and his wife, Chloe. Charlie wanting to become an archaeologist brings this complex familial history to the fore but only to those who already know the truth. It gives his father consternation when Charlie's teacher, Henrietta, suggests that he go to Pennsylvania to study which causes Didier to take action, a betrayal. The relationships between family members, townspeople, teacher, schoolmates slowly and deftly builds during the evening of this large open house party.

About thirty-two pages long, written in shifting point-of-view, and is divided into eight sections.

"Open House" is in the current issue, Volume 19, Issue 63, of American Short Fiction.

One of my favorite lines: "She'd noted his rare lack of defensiveness and his ability to accept criticism easily, which made it possible for him to learn almost anything."

Subtlety: "Perhaps it was his own brother's leaning that made him so peculiarly interested in her
relationship with Daphne."