“Children, I said to her. For the first little while, they not exactly human, you don't find?”
Nalo Hopkinson

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

52 Short Stories and Poems: John Barth

I learned from Wikipedia John Barth is a novelist, essayist, short story writer born in 1930.  He lives in Maryland.
Barth's short story "Toga Party" is the part of The Best American Short Stories of 2007 edited by Stephen King.  I found the book at a library sale and it is worth every penny.

"Toga Party" is about the Feltons, a comfortable, retired couple who live in an gated upper-class development on the eastern shore of Maryland.   Married over forty years, life for them has been full, rich and mostly happy, but as they watch friends get sick and die, both are concerned about the future.  The Feltons know it is only a matter of short time before they too succumb to the inevitable and they are not sure what to do about it.

Their friend Sam lost his wife to cancer in the past year.  Sam is doing his best to hold onto life and not display his grief and loneliness.  At eighty Sam still plays tennis with seventy-five year old Dick Felton.

Sam, Dick, and Susan (Felton)  are all invited to a toga party by their wealthy mysterious neighbors.  They all decide to go for different reasons.  Susan is going to prove she enjoys parties and people. Dick is going to prove to Susan that he is not too depressed.  Sam is going to make a statement.  You will have to read the story to find out what kind of statement.

The story doesn't seem to be online, but your local library is sure to have it.

This is not a review.  It is meant to let you share in my discovery of authors I have never read.  I will try not to spoil the story by giving out too much information.  I am just going to say that I like the names Dick, Sue, and Sam.  They remind me of Dick and Jane readers from the sixties.  They are perfect models of white Protestant America, but you and I know this life is imperfect, unfair, messy, and painful.  I hope Dick and Sue still have sex.

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