Monday, September 28, 2009

The New Yorker: "Temporary" by Marisa Silver

Everything is temporary. Vivian is living with Shelly in a temporary space (it’s not really housing at all) and they’re only temporarily friends. Vivian temporarily hooks up with Shelly’s temporary boyfriend. Vivian is a temp working in an adoption agency, where she was hired because she herself was adopted (having temporarily belonged to other parents, I suppose). And her adoptive mother gets very ill but then recovers. Temporarily. And then she dies, having, temporarily, taken up smoking because she thinks women who smoke look elegant. The point, it seems, is that Vivian is searching for permanence, and the only thing permanent in her life is that her mother is dead. The last line of the story is a beautiful statement of impermanence: “She kept her eyes closed as Vivian and her father watched the delicate curl of smoke dissolve and disappear, like sugar on the tongue.”

This is a good one. One of my favorites of the year so far.

September 28, 2009: “Temporary” by Marisa Silver

3 comments:

Paul Epstein said...

I liked it, too. Some of the plot elements reminded me of Carver though the language couldn't be more different.

Ray Carver's ending might have been:


They watched her smoke. "That's really something," Vivian said.

Clifford Garstang said...

I thought of Carver, too, partly because I taught "Cathedral" a couple of weeks ago. So when the blind mother is smoking I was reminded of the blind man. I agree with your Carver-esque ending!

samane said...

your paraphrase help me too much. because we should read this story for Short Story exam and it help me. thanks