‘Lofty’ by Ann Beattie


Lofty by Ann Beattie, 1983

The magic trick:

Putting the protagonist at a house where she lived 10 years ago

Simple but effective. “Lofty” take its protagonist back to the scene of the crime. Kait returns to a house for a party 10 years after she lived there with her ex-husband. Such a setup allows for scenes – in backstory form – of Kait’s previous marriage and ones from her current life. Compare and contrast made easy. And that’s quite a trick on Beattie’s part.

The selection:

Before the party, Philip had sent Monica a note that Monica showed to Kate with a sneer. He said that he was not going to attend the celebration of a mistake; she was too young to marry, and he would have nothing to do with the event. Kate thought that his not being there had less to do with his daughter and more to do with Kate and him. Either he still loved her or else he hated her. She closed her hand around the spike in the tree.

“Climb up so I can look up your skirt,” her husband said.

And then he was surprised when she did.

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