Happy by Joyce Carol Oates, 1984
The magic trick:
No editorializing; just observation
This is a neat, little story. There are no tricks, no gimmicks.
We get zero description, zero editorializing. It’s all action and observation, simply presented to the reader for our entertainment and interpretation.
And that’s quite a trick on Oates’s part.
The girl had spoken with her mother no more than two or three times about her plans to be remarried, always long distance, her mother kept saying Yes it’s sudden in your eyes but this kind of thing always is, you know right away or you don’t know at all. Wait and see. The girl said very little, murmuring Yes or I don’t know or I suppose so. Her mother said in a husky voice He makes me feel like living again. I feel, you know, like a woman again, and the girl was too embarrassed to reply. As long as you’re happy, she said.
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