Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Short Story Wednesday: "My Father's Friends" from ALL THE DAYS AND NIGHTS, William Maxwell

William Maxwell wrote one of my favorite novels, TIME WILL DARKEN IT, but despite having his collected stories I have read none till now. He has divided the book into traditional short stories and something he calls improvisations. This is what he says about the improvisations. "I wrote them to please my wife. When we were first married, I would tell her a story in the dark. I had no idea where they came from. Sometimes I fell asleep and she would shake me and say, "What happened next?" I would struggle through the layers of oblivion and tell her." 

That is perhaps my favorite story of all. How nice to make up stories for your wife.

"My Father's Friends" is about a visit made by a man after his father's death to two friends who were not well enough to attend the funeral . The first friend was man his father fished with and our protagonist finds much in common with this friend and they become friends. The second man golfed with his father and he is a harder man to like. He is critical of the man's now dead father, claiming he liked women too much. The story ends with an aunt telling our protagonist that as the second friend's wife lay dying she told him he was the dearest husband any wife ever had. So this statement helps the man to find goodness in the friend. The story is very well written but more a memory perhaps than a story. I will have to read more of them. 

Kevin Tipple

Jerry House 


Richard Robinson 

George Kelley 

Matt Paust 

Todd Mason


Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, I like that idea of making up stories for a spouse, Patti! That's such an interesting look at that bond between people.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Margot. The more typical thing is making up a story for your children.

Mathew Paust said...

Mine's up, Patti.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Maxwell is another of those writers on my radar that I have meant to try for years, but somehow haven't. I've had the Collected Stories from the library a couple of times, but always when I had so many other balls in the air that I never got around to it.

TracyK said...

I like the sound of that story. I am not familiar with the author, but I will see if I can find this book or one of his other short story collections.

Todd Mason said...

Dunno how, but managed to not refresh this properly, and so did other things rather than get my late one in.

I have told mostly more than written stories for my spousal equivalents...Alice did tell me that one series I told her should be published. There might be a market for it.