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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.