The endings of short stories, they say, are supposed to be inevitable and yet surprising. Or something like that. They are NOT, however, supposed to be predictable. And yet didn’t you see this one coming a mile a way? Didn’t Dr. Chacko smell like a fraud from the moment he arrived on the scene, the stench only growing worse as the narrator let him deeper into her life? From the moment her good silver was mentioned, didn’t you know he was going to steal it? Or maybe it was SO predictable that the predictable outcome is actually unpredictable. In any case, other than fluid prose (which is hardly a positive attribute, since a New Yorker story damn well better have fluid prose), I don’t have anything good to say about this story.
July 28, 2008: “The Teacher” by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala