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Paul Horgan: The Peach Stone (Deal Me In 2016 – Week 38)

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I don’t think I’ve read a short story in which an author has managed so well to tell it from multiple points of view as Paul Horgan’s “The Peach Stone”. The story consists of a four hour car ride from Roswell, New Mexico to the small town of Weed, Texas. The car ride is the result of a tragedy occuring in the lives of the four people traveling.

It’s difficult to remember that nobody in the car is actually talking for the majority of the trip. Because we read the thoughts of the married couple, their young son and his teacher and because these thoughts are not necessarily in rigid order, it seems like the car should be a buzz with chatter. It’s also difficult to say who the protagonist would be in the story. It could very easily be any of them. While I was reading, I thought of the wife as the “main” protagonist but someone else reading the story could think that title should belong to one of the others.

Much of the riders’ thoughts revolve around the tragedy that’s forced them to make the trip. For varying reasons, they all are dealing with much guilt and anguish. While one of the travelers eventually “opens up” as they reach their destination, I wondered while I was reading whether redemption or resolution would be found.

Perhaps it was-

Jodey then felt that she had returned to them all; and he stopped seeing, and just remembered, what happened yesterday; and his love for his wife was confirmed as something he would never be able to measure for himself or prove to her in words.


This story is included in my copy of The Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike. I selected it to read by drawing the Ace of Clubs for Week 38 of my Deal Me In 2016 short story project.  My Deal Me In 2016 list can be found here. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.


9 thoughts on “Paul Horgan: The Peach Stone (Deal Me In 2016 – Week 38)

  1. When I heard “Weed” Texas, I was immediately reminded of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” when Lenny ‘had some trouble’ in the past if I’m remembering correctly.

    It’s a pretty remarkable feat if the author can make a four-hour car trip (where no one is speaking much) interesting. 🙂

    1. A found a town called Weed to be interesting whether it’s in Texas or California. This was a well thought-out story – and, yes, a “remarkable feat” is a great description.

  2. Hi again Dale!
    My short story “book” club at work is meeting on this story tonight and I finally just read it today on my lunch hour. I like your thoughts about whether or not there is a protagonist in this story, and if so, which of the four is it. That’s going to be one of my questions for the group. I also wondered if there was some intentional sychronicity between the name of the town Weed and the tumble”weeds” that did in the little girl…

    1. I hadn’t thought of that, but, yes, there could very well be some intention of combining Weed, TX and the tumble weeds.

      How did you go about getting your short story book club going at work? Did you just kind of stumble across people who were interested? Or did someone come to you?

      1. As you might have guessed, I was the initiator of it. 🙂 there were three or four of us who had talked books occasionally and I suggested it to them, and recruited people we’d seen reading in the lunchroom etc. it’s a pretty good group. 🙂

      2. It sounds awesome! I was thinking that I wouldn’t be able to find anyone interested in doing this at my work; however, now that I’m thinking about it, I can come up with at least 2 possibilities.

      3. It’s not an official work group either, we just happen to work at the same place (I doubt HR would like that we meet at a bar, e.g.)

        And, if YOU know two, maybe they each know a couple, etc., etc. and you’ll have enough.

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