In "The Difference Between Women and Men" a woman moves the bedroom furniture into the corner of the room until she cannot move her husband's heavy and full armoire. We learn that he has told her in the car something about the difference between women and men which prompted her to leave him in the car. She decides to move the bedroom furniture into the corner of the room. He finally comes inside the house and asks her what she is doing. She then tells him something about him she has come to realize and then she lifts, with no apparent trouble, his full dresser. She lifts it "with miraculous ease, lifted it and lifted it, the armoire no heavier than a blue cardigan."
This is an interesting short portrait of a brief incident for a twenty-seven year married couple but it is not a full story. I suppose the theme is that the woman felt pushed into a corner because of what her husband told her. Once she realizes a truth about him, she's psychologically freed shown in her ability to lift the armoire.
It is only 6 pages long. Written in a realistic style and in past tense, third person point of view.
31 December, 2011
The story's style is realistic but the subject matter is surreal.
Some issues the story deals with is parental fear as when the father could not locate his children, he had horrible fears involving the swimming pool which because it was winter and the pool was covered not very realistic.
The identity question is more confusing than that as the children are not as the parents remember but mostly in superficial ways. The parents obviously fight on a regular basis but in the end we learn that even they are not who we thought they were. Or, they do not even know who is who. "Now there would be this issue to resolve, they both knew, and the ensuing fight over who was who here." We never really know another person and I suppose we never really even know ourselves. And, again, some people just fight to fight. They'll find anything to fight about. This story is sneaky in the way it is about profound ideas and yet is told so simply.
I've seen Lott's name around for years but somehow had never read anything by him. Well, I never read novels so that's probably why. Anyway, I'm curious to read more of his short stories.
"Family" is written in third person point of view and past tense. It's about 15 pages long and was first published in Prairie Schooner and subsequently included in Lott's collection, The Difference Between Women and Men.
an interview with Lott on Fiction Writers Review web site
WorldCat entry for Lott