It’s good to have a patient husband, one who will often agree to listen as you read aloud a (long) short story.
We did this on a recent, sunny afternoon because of a question posed in last week’s New York Times: What subjects are underrepresented in contemporary fiction?
Ah! The subject of joy, said novelist Ayana Mathis. Especially the kind of joy that erupts during a painful time. To illustrate, she used an incident in Eudora Welty’s short story, “The Wide Net,” where William Wallace feels a “bucolic rapture” as he and his neighbors drag the Pearl River for his pregnant wife’s body.
What a deft and graceful writer is Welty. How she pops with imagination, often of the fantastical variety. How wicked and sly her humor.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
And her descriptions: “The winding river looked old sometimes, when it ran wrinkled and deep under high banks where the roots of trees hung down, and sometimes it seemed to be only a young creek, shining with the colors of wildflowers.”
“The Wide Net” is the story of one man’s journey – frightening and magical and exuberant – to become more intimate. It says how hard some men must wrestle with the elements before they are fit for marriage.
And it’s one heck of a joyful read.