Jan 192010

Dug into this story by Leonard Michaels today.  I thought it was interesting that the story mentions Spengler.  “We talked about Worringer and Spengler.”

The story is odd on the surface…essentially a man recounting his life during the 1950’s.  It’s taken me three reads to even begin to understand how to approach it for my thesis.  It’s certainly an ‘outlier’ in terms of structure or plot.  I’m wondering about the idea of invisible resistance patterns, about characters not written on the page.  Maybe something that could be called ‘implied conflcit’?  This story seems to just move around a lot, but I’m thinking that perhaps the tension is built into the story by the time which has passed from the telling to the subject (perhaps fifteen or more years.)  I’m curious to see if this story makes more sense with repeated readings, though even after three, certain images patterns have already begun to appear: suicide, Communism, language, youth, sex, violence, activism.  It seems like in all these outlier stories, the image patterns hold the structure together when the other elements recede.  I’m not sure if that’s where I’ll end up, but that’s what I’m thinking now.

—Richard Farrell

  No Responses to ““In the Fifties.””

  1. I don’t want to influence your reading & thinking too much at this stage. But implied conflicts (or non-plot conflicts) and image patterning look like two excellent lines of thought. dg

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