‘The Wide Net’ by Eudora Welty

Welty, Eudora 1942

The Wide Net by Eudora Welty, 1942 Read the rest of this entry »


‘The Aleph’ by Jorge Luis Borges

Borges, Jorge Luis 1945

The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges, 1945 Read the rest of this entry »

‘The Swimmer’ by John Cheever

Cheever, John 1964

The Swimmer by John Cheever, 1964 Read the rest of this entry »

‘The Gospel According To Mark’ by Jorge Luis Borges

Borges, Jorge Luis 1970

The Gospel According To Mark by Jorge Luis Borges, 1970 Read the rest of this entry »

‘The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1922 Read the rest of this entry »

‘The Dead Fiddler’ by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Singer, Isaac Bashevis 1968

The Dead Fiddler by Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1968 Read the rest of this entry »

‘The Juniper Tree’ by Lorrie Moore

Moore, Lorrie 2005

The Juniper Tree by Lorrie Moore, 2005

The magic trick:

The nightmare sequence

Today we have a little bit of magical realism from Lorrie Moore. The heart of the story is a eerie sequence – Is it real? Is it a nightmare? It can’t be really happening, right? – in which our narrator visits a friend who had died the night before. It’s an arresting scene, to be sure. Like any good magical realism, the surreal serves to contextualize the other, more realistic, elements of the story. In this case, the nightmare not only emphasizes the narrator’s feelings of guilt and selfishness, it casts her entire world in a more ominous light. It reveals not just self-loathing but a contempt she feels for her friends, the town and the whole college-professor lifestyle she’s fallen into. The nightmare makes the non-nightmare portions of the story feel like nightmares too. And that’s quite a trick on Moore’s part.

The selection:

“As a result?” said Robin, a bit hoarsely. She cleared her throat. “No hugs. Everything’s a little precarious, between the postmortem and the tubes in and out all week. This scarf’s the only thing holding my head on.” Though she was pale, her posture was perfect, her dark-red hair restored, her long thin arms folded across her chest. She was dressed as she was always dressed: in black jeans and a blue sweater. She simply, newly, had the imperial standoffishness that I realized only then I had always associated with the dead. We pulled up chairs and each of us sat.

“Should we make some gin rickeys?” Isabel asked, motioning toward the bags of booze and lime-juice blend.

“Oh, maybe not,” said Robin.

“We wanted to come here and each present you with something,” said Pat.

“We did?” I said. I’d brought nothing. I had asked them what to bring and they had laughed it off.