I was introduced to this book by a smooth-talking, cool, British professor, who mentioned it was his favorite . . . collection of short stories? Book? It’s difficult to remember now. That was years ago. And it wasn’t the first time I had heard of the collection. I think in college I even recorded a friend reading Why I live at the P.O.
in a funny voice for a theater class. Or maybe just selections from the story. So, anyway, I was on a short-story-reading kick, and after loving Cather’s and Hemingway’s and Katherine Mansfield’s, I thought I would give these a chance.
At first, we really hit it off. The stories in the first collection, A Curtain of Green, are really tight with surprise endings and good dialog. Then, as I got to know Welty better, it became obvious that maybe she was a friend who was fun to party with, but not someone with whom I’d want to talk about anything important. Because, I had to start to ask myself if she wasn’t kind of racist
. I generally still liked The Wide Net, especially the title story. That was one of my favorites in the whole book. It wasn’t until The Golden Apples, though, that I realized Welty is boring
. And then, by The Bride of the Innisfallen Welty had become just a crazy old bitty, calling to ramble nonsensically about some kids holding hands on a cruise ship. Then, there is a surprise uber
-racist ending of a couple of unpublished stories.
The one story in The Golden Apples that is worth reading is Moon Lake
. It starts out slow, like a lot of hers do, but it’s worth it for the way it ends. Otherwise, I would skip the last two collections entirely. The first two are still worth reading, though. Well, maybe just the first one and the title story of the second.
It took me about three years to read this collection of short stories, so I feel like I should be able to write something more profound about it. I have been reading this book since I first started my goodreads account, and finishing it is something of a milestone. Rather than feeling celebratory, though, I feel more like I just don’t ever want to think about it again. One reviewer wrote
of The Golden Apples, “This book has been an albatross around my neck all freaking summer.” I’d like to echo that sentiment for the entire collection. I’ve been a lot better about it since I started this book reporting business, but usually I’m pretty stubborn about finishing books even if I don’t like them. This is a good example of that. I should have just quit when it started going bad because it did not ever get better. Stupid smooth-talking Brits. Stupid southern women writers.