Monday, June 20, 2011

The New Yorker: "Gravel" by Alice Munro

June 27, 2011: “Gravel” by Alice Munro

But what happened to Blitzee?

As I was reading this wonderful Alice Munro story (available for free, so read it quick before they change their minds!), I wondered why the narrator had such a poor memory of this period of her life. She was five, true, but still. And then the facts are revealed. How her holder Caro sister had acted out already—a protest, in a sense, over the destruction of the family—and so Caro’s behavior on the day in question was not a huge surprise.

The girls’ mother fancies herself a Bohemian, hangs out with actors at the local summer theater, and eventually leaves their father for Neal, who, she says, has made her pregnant. Even though it’s the mother who has caused the problem, she retains custody and takes the girls to a trailer to live with Neal. It’s out in the country and has various dangers, but the mother isn’t a very attentive caretaker. Which is not to say she doesn’t love the girls. She does, and she watches out for them. Until one day . . .

But what happened exactly. She doesn’t remember. I don’t blame her.

A very good story.


Barb Modrack said...

I was going to go back and see if I missed what happened to the dog, too. I guess I didn't! No matter, the story was flawless and gorgeous. The memory issue handled perfectly the guilt and irrevocability of the circumstances.

Havly Heevra Hovra said...

After reading this story I discussed it with my wife and son. We concluded that the dog was merely a literary device to "drive" the story and that afterwards the dog was probably euthanized, it's purpose being completed it was rightly of no further use so it was disposed of, just the way most dogs end up one way or another.