‘The Fall’ by V.S. Pritchett

The Fall by V.S. Pritchett, 1960

The magic trick:

Take a banal scenario and add an extremely unique piece to the premise

Welcome to V.S. Pritchett Week on SSMT.

One of the most underrated purveyors of pristine short stories? Or bizarrely bland relic of another era?

We’ve got five features this week, so you can decide.

I’m probably going to say somewhere in between – though I think I’d lean more toward the former if I had to pick one.

We start with “The Fall.” In many ways, it’s the picture of banal life. A man is attending an Annual Dinner for accountants. Yikes.

But there is a twist. And it’s not really even a plot twist. It’s a fundamental premise twist. Our man Peacock has a famous brother who is a Hollywood actor.

There you go. Take the most banal scenario ever and add something very unusual. Now we’re interested.

And that’s quite a trick on Pritchett’s part.

The selection:

Shel often cropped up in Peacock’s life, especially in clubs and at dinners. It was pleasing. There was always praise, there were always questions. He had seen the posters about Shel’s new film during the week, on his way to his office. They pleased, but they also troubled. Now Peacock stood at his place at table in the Great Hall and paused to look around, in case there was one more glance of vicarious fame to be collected. He was enjoying one of those pauses of self-possession in which, for a few seconds, he could feel the sensations Shel must feel when he stepped before the curtain to receive the applause of some great audience in London or New York. Then Peacock sat down. More than two hundred soup spoons scraped.

“Sherry, sir?” said the waiter.

Peacock sipped.

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