My Side Of The Matter by Truman Capote, 1945
The magic trick:
Telling the story from one person’s defensive point of view but tossing out the entire notion of justice or logic by making the entire cast of characters loony
I think it is a safe wager to say a young Truman Capote read a lot of early Eudora Welty. “My Side Of The Matter” captures a lot of the absurdist comi-tragedy one finds in Welty’s brand of Southern Gothic. But even docking points for originality, it’s a very entertaining story. The narrator speaks directly to the reader defending himself – as the title suggests – against the suggestion that he is to blame for the situation he’s now in.
That’s a fairly simple setup, but what makes the story funnier and more interesting than your average point-of-view tale is the ridiculousness of every character in the story. As a result, you’re not just getting a flawed narrator trying to talk his way out of a predicament. He is hilariously flawed, of course. But his wife and her two aunts are no queens of logic and good sense either. The whole thing is a mess. And that’s quite a trick on Capote’s part.
Like I say, I’m trying to keep cool in the parlor not bothering a living soul when Olivia-Ann trots in with her hair all twisted up in curlers and shrieks, “Cease that infernal racket this very instant! Can’t you give a body a minute’s rest? And get off my piano right smart. It’s not your piano, it’s my piano and if you don’t get off it right smart I’ll have you in court like a shot the first Monday in September.”
She’s not anything in this world but jealous on account of I’m a natural-born musician and the songs I make up out of my own head are absolutely marvelous.
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