Monday, September 28, 2009

Zoetrope Surprise

I subscribe to Zoetrope: All Story, and the latest issue arrived recently. I was busy and set it aside on my desk to look at later. Taking a break this morning, I thumbed through it and was shocked to see the title of the Sam Shepard story: "Thor's Day (Highway 81 North, Staunton, Virginia)."

I live in Staunton, Virginia, not far from Interstate 81. (This story may now join William Henry Lewis's story "I Got Somebody in Staunton" as the only pieces of literature naming our town in the title.)

The story is all dialogue, which is unusual, of course. And it doesn't seem to have anything to do with Staunton. The couple arguing in the story have been driving for a long time and seem to have stopped to eat lunch. They talk about an incident from three days earlier at the Cracker Barrel in Denton (I wonder if they're in the Cracker Barrel just off 81 in Staunton?) and the fact that blueberry pancakes seem to make one of them cry. She (he?) can't explain this. While they're waiting for the waitress, they argue. Then the waitress comes. The end.

Okay, I didn't say it was a great story. But I do like the title.

4 comments:

F. Escobar said...

What did you make of Shepard's story? I'm inclined to think the dialogue happens within the mind of a person who's losing his sanity. I'm curious to know what your interpretation was.

Clifford Garstang said...

Given Shepard's talent for writing plays, I saw this more as a straightforward play-like story with the couple sitting in a booth arguing. There's a certain amount of irrationality, I have to admit, but that's how couples really argue, so I didn't see it as being interior.

F. Escobar said...

I see your point: it sounds very much like a couple arguing. But note how, right before the ending, there are two voices talking when the "waitress is coming. Look! Here she comes", and yet there is only one person when the waitress stands by the man's table ("I didn't see you sitting over here in the corner. All tucked away"). That's what convinced me of an interior dialogue.

Clifford Garstang said...

Hmm. Yes. I kind of like your theory. But there's the part where they sit across from each other in the booth. Then, too, right before the waitress comes, the other voice says she's going to the car, so that could explain why he's sitting alone when the waitress gets there. But I'd like the story better if your take on it is right!