Train by Joy Williams, 1972
The magic trick:
The relationship between Danica and Jane’s father, Mr. Muirhead
While it is not necessarily central to the story’s main themes, I very much enjoyed the relationship between Danica and Jane’s father, Mr. Muirhead. They share a quiet sympathy, in spite of their only-casual connection. Over what do they bond? Their mutual contempt for Jane. This is especially interesting to me, as I am peculiarly fascinated by parents whose resentment for their significant other seeps into their relationship with their child. I’m not sure why – it has just always interested me. It’s such a sad, selfish thing that adults do, and this is a classic case. And that’s quite a trick on Williams’s part.
“Do you think Jane and I will be friends forever?” Dan asked.
Mr. Muirhead looked surprised. “Definitely not. Jane will not have friends. Jane will have husbands, enemies and lawyers.” He cracked ice noisily with his white teeth. “I’m glad you enjoyed your summer, Dan, and I hope you’re enjoying your childhood. When you grow up, a shadow falls. Everything’s sunny and then this big Goddamn wing or something passes overhead.”
“Oh,” Dan said.