‘The Jockey’ by Carson McCullers

McCullers, Carson 1941a

The Jockey by Carson McCullers, 1941

The magic trick:

Keeping the story in one scene

I really don’t enjoy this story. And maybe I’m just dumb. I’ve read it three times and heard it on the New Yorker Fiction podcast a fourth time. Still don’t get it. I can’t, for the life of me, find any reason to care. It reminds me a little bit of some John O’Hara’s stories, where the social commentary is too much tied to its time to retain relevance 60, 70 years later.

But that’s hardly a magic trick post, so let’s take a more positive slant.

It is remarkably focused as a story. It’s a single scene. Not a lot happens. The action and judgmental observations are subtle. The tension seems to emerge from that subtlety. And that’s quite a trick on McCullers’s part.

(What the point is I still don’t know.)

The selection:

The waiter brought the whiskey, and the jockey sat fondling the glass with his small, strong, callused hands. On his wrist was a gold link bracelet that clinked against the table edge. After turning the glass between his palms, the jockey suddenly drank the whiskey neat in two hard swallows. He set down the glass sharply. “No, I don’t suppose your memory is that long and extensive,” he said.

“Sure enough, Bitsy,” said Sylvester. “What makes you act like this? You hear from the kid today?”

“I received a letter,” the jockey said. “The certain person we were speaking about was taken out from the cast on Wednesday. One leg is two inches shorter than the other one. That’s all.”

Sylvester clucked his tongue and shook his head. “I realize how you feel.”

“Do you?” The jockey was looking at the dishes on the table. His gaze passed from the fish casserole to the corn, and finally fixed on the plate of fried potatoes. His face tightened and quickly he looked up again. A rose shattered and he picked up one of the petals, bruised it between his thumb and forefinger, and put it in his mouth.

“Well, those things happen,” said the rich man.

READ THIS STORY ONLINE

As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.

Advertisements

2 Comments on “‘The Jockey’ by Carson McCullers”

  1. Ann Graham says:

    I’m sorry you don’t like this story. I like it a lot. I have a few comments on my blog.
    http://www.ann-graham.com/2017/05/carson-mccullers-jockey.html


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s