Short Stories All the Time

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

17 November, 2016

Frederic Tuten, "Winter, 1965"

Frederic Tuten's "Winter, 1965" was first published in Bomb  and then included in The O'Henry Prize Stories, 2016.

As the title states, the story takes place in the winter of 1965. By the second sentence we know that the White Horse Tavern, in NYC, figures as well. The protagonist, never named, hangs out at this same bar where many writers of the past gathered. Everyone knows he is to have a story published in the Partisan Review and he's "changed in everyone's eyes." His imagination sets off; he has a novel ready to go, he's going to "enter the inner circle of New York intellectual life and be invited to cocktail parties." His writing life appears to be on the verge of success and thrilling fame.

Then, the day his story was to appear, it didn't, he "found his name was not there." Ouch!

The story starts out with a deep desire on the verge of being fulfilled for the protagonist and it's yanked away for what reason we don't know yet.

Throughout the story, street intersections and bus schedule times make it so that the reader is able to follow our character through his work day. "At 7:45 he was at the crosstown bus stop on Tenth and Avenue D and if all went well he was at the Astor Place station before 8:15 and, if all still went well, he would catch the local and transfer for the express at Fourteenth, get off at Ninety-Sixth Street and take another local to 114th."

The atmosphere is beyond bleak, even the Holocaust is used as a metaphor. One of his neighbors is described as, "He had seen the tattooed numbers on the old man's wrist and knew what had given them birth--hills of eyeglasses, mounds of gold teeth, black smoke rising from an exhausted chimney."

And later, when he's thinking about getting a cat. "He would go there on Saturday and would come home that very day with a cat. He wondered what kind of cats they had there. Old ones, sick ones, mean ones, dirty and incontinent ones who would pee on his bed, all ready to be gassed. He would save ten and herd them in a train to follow him as he went from room to room."

The news spread that his story hadn't appeared and his friends and colleagues "gave him sly, sympathetic looks."

He finally receives a letter about his story. He meets with a young woman who we find out was just sleeping with the editor and so when he breaks it off with her, he doesn't publish the stories that she'd liked. This is told through a great dialogue exchange where the young woman doesn't spell it out but it's clear what has occurred.

There are literary references throughout the story as well.