Let’s Talk About it Oklahoma – LTAIO

 

Let’s Talk About it Oklahoma (LTAIO)

The Forth book in the Series is: “Points of View: An Anthology of Short Stories” edited by James Moffett and Kenneth McElheny

April 30th at 6pm at Stacy’s Place, 113 W Harrison Ave, Guthrie, OK 73044

The three stories being read are “The Stone Boy,” by Gina Berriault “A & P,” by John Updike “The Five-Forty-Eight,” by John Cheever. These three stories involve “making choices,” crystallized by a single fateful event, the consequences of which may not be fully resolved by story’s end. Such is the form of the contemporary story—to be finished in the reader’s own imagination. Further, the stories are studies in contrasts. Each narrator is at a different stage in life (childhood, adolescence, midlife crisis), in a different location (rural, suburban, big-city), and at a different economic level (living on a farm, working in a store, and working in a white-collar job).

“The Stone Boy” recounts a tale of two young brothers, Arnold and Eugie, involved in a shooting accident while they are picking peas for their mother. After his rifle discharges, killing Eugie, Arnold continues to gather peas, then returns home to announce calmly, “Eugie’s dead.” The reader is left to judge the boy, the consequences of his actions, and his choice to withhold his feelings from his parents. We see there will be no psychiatrist, as in Ordinary People, to help Arnold and his family to communicate. No one knows how to share Arnold’s grief, and the story offers no signposts, other than everyday chores which need to be done, life which must continue.

Updike’s “A & P” depicts a rite of passage as 19-year-old Sammy tells of a crisis in his job as cashier at the A & P. Because of a decision by the self-righteous manager to banish three scantily clad girls from the store, Sammy, in one grand gesture, resigns. No one cares. Sammy rejects the ugliness of the A & P, but with humor and irony, Updike shows the dangers of idealism. Though his family is not present in the story, Sammy realizes he will have to account to them for his behavior. The girls trigger an action that is irreversible, leaving Sammy with the painful knowledge of “how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.”

In Cheever’s “Five-Forty-Eight,” we ride with Blake, a middle-aged man, on his suburban train to disquietude. His is being pursued by a Miss Dent, whom he knows. Afraid, he’s sure that she plans violence, yet he tells us he’s an “insignificant man” whose briefcase holds no secrets. Gradually we learn he does have secrets, as he muses upon his loveless marriage, his adultery, his unhappy children. The latent danger he fears appears at last to seek revenge on his mean spirit, and we ponder Miss Dent’s surprising choice of action. In the last scene, she renders a lesson to one who exploits others. But will the incident make a difference in Blake’s behavior?

New comer Dr Nathan Shank will be presenting. Pick up you copy at the front desk.