Friday, February 11, 2005

Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller was a giant. Sitting on my desk, under an enormous paper weight, is his story Beavers, torn from the current (February 2005) issue of Harper's. It didn't strike me as a timeless story when I read it, but I liked it because it is, nominally, about a man who feels guilty for having to kill the beavers who are threatening to devastate a wooded slope. It struck me because I have from time to time had the same problem, and felt bad about killing the beavers. But what are the options.

But of course that isn't really what the story is about.

"Or was it all much simpler: did he simply wake one morning and with infinite pleasure start swimming through the clear water when, quite by chance, he heard the trickling of the overflow and, steering himself over to it, was filled with desire to capture the lovely wet sound, for he adored water above all things and wished somehow to become part of it, if only by capturing its tinkle? And the rest, as it turned out, was unforeseen death. He had not believed in his death. The shots fired into the water had not caused him to flee but merely to dive and surface again a couple of minutes later. He was young and immortal to himself."


Mary Akers said...

Lovely. And clearly from the beaver's POV. It can be done.

Clifford Garstang said...

Well, actually, it is the man--the beaver killer--projecting, and wondering what the beaver was thinking, but, yes, for this section it is the beaver's POV.

katrina said...

Lovely. I'd like to read the whole story now.
Thanks for this exceprt, Cliff.