Thursday, October 30, 2008

The New Yorker: "The Fat Man's Race" by Louise Erdrich

I assume that this story is included in honor of Halloween, since it does feature the Devil as one of its characters. Sort of. The narrative structure of the story is quite interesting. It seems to be a monologue by Grandma Ignatia, perhaps being told to one of her grandchildren. In the opening paragraph Ignatia begins to speak (“Grandma Ignatia said”) and then in the last paragraph she is wrapping the story up (again: “Grandma Ignatia said”). In between we hear from Ignatia about her love for a man Cuthbert, a big, rich man whose sisters did not approve of their relationship because, they said, she was having sex with the Devil. Which she was, in her dreams. But then . . . You can read the rest of the story, which is quite short.

As I say, I like the structure. I like Grandma Ignatia’s voice and the tale she tells is engaging. Beyond that . . . the story does nothing for me. It’s a pleasant little ghost story that a Grandmother might tell her (mature—she does talk about having sex with the Devil) grandchildren. But I’m not sure there’s more to it than that.

November 3, 2008: “The Fat Man’s Race” by Louise Erdrich


Heather said...

I really, really enjoyed this story - it had a nice flow to it. I thought it was more of a folk tale than a Halloween story, per se. It was a refreshing change.

Anonymous said...

Its a story that is showing the reader about gluttony. Not just the fact that the fat man eats too much, but that Grandma herself was falling to temptation every night with this devil. She knew better, but was obsessive every night with him. glutton for this sex. there are more details, but I wanted to at least point out that there is a lot more meaning in this story than what the initial reaction would be.