Short Stories All the Time

My photo
... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Bissell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bissell. Show all posts

15 January, 2012

Tom Bissell, "A Bridge Under Water"

Newly married and on their honeymoon trip in Rome, a twenty-six year old Jewish woman and a thirty-four year old atheist argue and cajole each other about raising their child Jewish. We watch the couple come together to denounce the Jewish religion together. I think the theme is about compromise and analyzing one's assumptions. The woman's mother was Jewish and that was the only connection she felt to her religion but she'd felt it was important to raise her child with a sense of being Jewish. The husband has no respect for religion(s).

I liked the story and since I do not have a religious outlook, I enjoyed watching the dilemma about how to raise their child. I think Bissell handled their assumptions and rigidly held beliefs in a realistic and entertaining manner.

Of course, there is more to the story than that. I think it's also about how a person wants something that they suddenly think they cannot have. The woman felt as though her husband was trying to deprive her of something that she had never even cared about but his dismissal of it caused her to want to grasp it. Also just the fact of being pregnant and all the hormonal changes that occur can cause a woman to rethink and question what she sort of assumes she has believed in the past. 

I also like the way in which Bissell revealed the conflict and personalities of the main character and the secondary character through their treatment of each other. Every movement and word portrayed and revealed something but never felt utilitarian.

The story was written in past tense and 3rd person point of view and is about 23 pages long. "A Bridge Under Water" was first published in Agni.

"She admired his determination to love the unloved parts of the world, but, like all good qualities, it remained admirable only insofar as it was unacknowledged."

"He also told me that Italians are basically the most complicated uninteresting people in the world."

"The man put away everything from foie gras to a Wendy's single with the joyless efficiency of a twelve-year-old."

Wikipedia article about Bissell
Poets & Writers article