Garth Greenwell Reads Jean Stafford


WNYC studios is supported by Zuckerman spader a national litigation firm representing supported by Shady Grove Fertility Shady Grove fertility has been a place of hope and home to Ed from the magazine's archives to read and discuss this month on one hundred fiftieth episode olden hair in the firelight and the smell of her perfume and the intimate warmth affeldt certain that now her hair was cut off her mother would never want to sit so we'll come out in January I garth hi Deborah so I studied poetry for most of my really for most right and I picked her recently and you know I am a there's this remarkable ability that she has and that's a combination that I find very few writers get right eight one another that austerity is combined with an almost combination of kind of lushness and then something almost acidic thinks she's very widely read these days I wonder why why you think in flattering our sensibilities and I think there's a way in which her very precision I love these kind of old world words that sometimes you feel like she's rehabilitating to feel like she's stroking a cat as she uses it and there's something in that maybe that doesn't feel periods well not from the period many other writers just at all who sometimes even terrifying truths both of her I think great fling with sexuality and with desire and with those to be reading Jean Stafford much more as I say I'm convert and a proselytizer career in the in the forties and fifties early fifties and after that it was only stories S. in her life she stopped writing for a long time and you do get the sense that writing it just unsparing of everyone she's unsparing herself she's types who sort of made her feel like a country Bumpkin at their parties you and you had a little internal debate about which story to read and you the setup of the story has this incredible economy and I think you're almost sort of framed by a single action or situation so in if the door at her mother who is on the telephone with her her mother's sister beginning to end we are in this static situation and the and so there's a way in which you feel like you know she just fills the story people in this story is what I was talking about before that there is I mean this story is hugely away and one is staring into an abyss and that abyss is right well we'll talk some more after the story and now here's the incident the child's hair is a site and it will be many moons to a decline like a grown woman like you or me dear at our most hysterical sure probably doesn't sleep I can't stand it if she's turning mental onto aunt louise the door to the bedroom across the hall was and now half off the bed drooping and askew it taught Hannah an outdoors it is snowing on the Christmas trees gelded white Persian cat who does that her side his scornful head Chris pose he had sniffed and disdained the bowl of cream on his mistresses her enclosure Hannah yearned imagining herself in the privileged bordered the frozen formal garden if she were nephew do it and snowy crumbs at the feeding station scampered on lightly clicking claws between the trunks some hibernating even says stealthily and Hannah spying and eavesdropping the subject of her mother's conversation something like came they fell without any help from her her cheeks woo no part of her body was affected at all except the eyes themselves there's question into the telephone was impatient scream why do Minh career admiral for you why does Elliot Brag to Francis that he's this anti man whispered Hannah the stools set a Chinese pot of ver- Beena his an two cups and the breath and the sound of her voice saying isn't this gay miss baby sit so close to her again unable to see through the Seidl of Saturday's catastrophe on the face no respect for my children's feet the shoes he got are two odious have it done of course she does nothing of the kind to put what he had andy with him or Johnny or Huey and decided to kill two birds with one amen will weasel out of their missteps it isn't moral it the barber shop at her father's Club there had been no one but grown men and fat looking glass through a steaming towel her father had muttered then shrugged his shoulders and began to snip off Hannah's heavy curls on the drive home her peeled head had felt cold other red light her father had turned to her and patting her on the knee had said mm-hmm fellow nor had he noticed when she moved over against the door radio to a news broadcast dispute it out loud with the commentator James Arising from a huge wire trash basket making the rest of the world look agreeing on an absent minded tantrum all by himself once as they turned in their own drive he said a lie having lunch in a brown cloudy restaurant was that she would rather go to the barber shop I'm an old fashioned man he announced every morning to his three sons and his clear that he meant business johnny who was intellectual the voice speaking into the phone on get your help it isn't a trifle it's terribly important I really think it is end Hannah's mother lightly stroked the cat who did not heed and yes I did hear it but I can't remember where she said in attentively with the frightful new man of hers that's it it was from him I heard it an automatically or less than the Gestapo Hannah's head began you're and she only half heard her mother's agile voice rising descending her tears had stopped and she missed them as she might miss sadly as they lay dead and ruins on the tiled floor and before it had been no time at all because her mother still lying it just now she was busy playing with this angels hair even though her brothers and her sister had been as exciting as ever mad preoccupation it had been evident that the site of Hannah embarrassed them mushroom the parents did nothing to stop this talk balint as they drank more I hate them johnny had beat them said Johnny I bet a thousand dollars he had had a couple when why do they have to mess up Sunday fighting over her I'm going crazy the older children off to marry in country day school on his way to the city she she cried you'll be sorry if you come back and find I'm dead of some people's Children Hannah had stood under the ideas j. knee and Johnny and Andy and Huey Z.. To pay much attention to her though often they brought her presence from school who was thirteen and ending with Janey and when family photographs were taken smaller than Jamie that she spoiled the design and one time uncle is that the runt of the litter or is it a toy breed this evidently was something the barber had not known Sir now that her sole reason for existence was gone the windows to chill the house to its heart Hannah would run upstairs to the when she was stuck for a definition she would put down her pencil and thoughtfully and purple just as she unconsciously tried to seal forever in her her mother said to the cat what is that wretched four letter word that means the trae she stretched out her arms to Hannah who scrambled with disbelieving is bring us the brush baby index finger she talked lightly and secretly about Lynn teacher she included Hannah as if she all of Egypt or do you think they're Chinese overtones in his style and another time she went on the Queen Mary two Southampton than her nightclothes without bewitching indecipherable she always ruining a curl by cleve ing through it as she exclaimed dear same gentle texture as Hannah's and sometimes her hands would breath when the afternoons were snug and short and the lamps were turned on every day at half past two she and her mother is possible on a clear day to see the beaches of Long Island all odds and ends Mr Fowler a large quiet skirt of scarlet felt starched white Gibson girl shirt and a black blue accordion pleated skirt stood leaning against her knee air before they took their pose all the mornings occasionally he emerged from behind his easel and came across there's huge as they were was as light as her mother's of the enormous world of hills and trees and farms and rivers Israel question and answer between Mr Fowler and her mother half the time after the sitting was over and Hanane her mother had changed back into their regular clothes scuffed leather armchairs drinking whiskey and talking in the leisurely way as with her cup of mild limone T- she sat on a high stool never raised their voices or through things at each other or stormed who never stayed longer than two months at the most although the cook who I was going to hang in the drawing room over an heirloom globally where now he went abroad to learn German the lilacs scar from the dual was a half air was gone and the sunny our at the start of the day and the teatime one at of her days even her sisters and her brothers returned from the Shania Andy maintained it did not matter all right they said what if the baby did look matter and Johnny the spokesman for that camp railed at his father behind his maybe they might have been speaking of the car or a piece of furniture she felt that she was already shrinking and fading that she was becoming nonetheless invisible I shall eventually have to go to an analyst as you perfectly well know if I am to continue this sister because I don't think you're discreet at all take puffs the smoke befogged her frowning for head we'll put me into a swift it I dare say and I'll have to have a drink in my bath but the way briefly she put down the telephone and dragged nephew to her side course that's wrought at this juncture neither one of us does anything remember how fiendishly Ireland's were well the night exits bad form and that's exactly how he puts it that I still speak fondly of from the rooted in his mind that Robin I R- in the middle of a red hot affair we're using Hannah as a blind his implications were too cynical alley where any faint is useless because when five children are involved one's hands profile to some insane asylum like that one Elizabeth loved so the ice ran out and we didn't even take time to go get more so we drank this was the worst quarrel we've ever had by far the most would bring us together and let me tell you they were shattering if I hadn't he had fractured his skull fortunately the children but finally we began to pull ourselves together about noon with bloody Marys and I would not rise to that bait about my neglecting the welfare of I think I might have sensed was if I hadn't been so sick because as they were about I can see that he rolled his eyes and that baleful planning way of his and licked one it goes without saying that we have been at swords points ever since president to a child when one perfectly knows that accident is not involved spilling the beans about hugh besides you can't say to a child crushed Oh for Kat sake no not crushed that's not rob style hugh had wanted to make an issue of my afternoons in his studio he should have challenged him to the portrait rob claims that Hugh hates art as of course he heaven-sent opportunity to berate me for living in the camp of the enemy intuitive about most things can't see that I am the victim that can I do I'm taking her this afternoon to Angelo to see what he can salvage sure will never be finished so the dueling swords will stay where they are children for a minute or two her mother into her mother's arm she hated his smug white face of the angry bees if she were a b. she zig does the child to herself only out the door into the hall and went downstairs to the kitchen very own baby she put down her knife Hannah the cooks teary face looked surprised and kneeled on the window seat to watch the snow settling deeply on the branches of the trees that was garth greenwell reading the shorn lamb by Jean Stafford the story was published this week on the New Yorker Radio Hour I'll talk with Jason Blum the producer I think we like this I think it's good but it's definitely new definitely no one has so garth in away this is a wanted to receive admiration do you think that that idea was which to me has such a kind of biblical resonance to it revealed is that that power was always illusory and actually had nothing has devastatingly she's always just been assemble yeah and really the baby you know general category I think the mother

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