Monday, January 23, 2006

"Andrew" by Jane Bowles

A young man who joins the military becomes friends with another, strange young man whose officers allow him to camp out in the woods and cook meat over an open fire. Be prepared for fireworks! Read by Jonathan Strong.

Many people know her as merely the frail wife of writer/composer Paul Bowles (featured here previously), someone who followed him to Morocco, where she came under the thrall of an Arab woman who eventually, some say, led her to her destruction. Well, that may be partly true, but Jane Bowles was an excellent if idiosyncratic writer in many critics' regards, albeit one who took some decades to be fully recognized and realize her just rewards--post-mortem, as if often the case. Her play In the Summer House might be her most widely recognized work, but she is also well-known for her novel Two Serious Ladies and more recently for her collected stories, wherein this one is drawn. So, you see, she was much more than the neurotic portait of her in The Sheltering Sky. Not that we should ever think actual, "real" people ever haunt the otherworld of fiction, any more than those famous real toads in imaginary gardens!


marc said...

Is the story supposed to end ""you take things easy" Andrew said."?

Scoot said...

Yes, as abrupt as it is, that is the end of the story. But you're not the first to wonder if the whole file of the day has been downloaded; indeed, as we

have lately discovered, some of our offerings were truncated--those have been fixed (permanently, we hope). We try to keep most of our downloads as small

and brief as possible, usually choosing the shortest ones in the collections we own. (This doesn't mean, therefore, that they are all favorites!)

Because most of our stories are so short or fairly short, many of them number among the authors' fragmentary or even not-quite-finished works. This Jane

Bowles piece might be considered one of those, though it can't be affirmed whether she meant to come back and add more later; she's dead, so we can't ask

her. Other times, especially with the more experimental stories, the endings are purposely unsettling or left dangling. It's up to the reader to decide

whether the way the story ends is successful or not. In this case, we're with you: "Andrew" is an interesting story so far, but it does feel unfinished.

It might have even become a novel!

Don't worry; we'll try to have more unquestionably complete stories as often as we can...