Posted in Short Stories

Harold Brodkey: Verona – A Young Woman Speaks (Deal Me In 2018 – Week 27)

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I had never seen so many pigeons or such a private and haunted place as that piazza, me in my new coat at the far rim of the world, the far rim of who knew what story, the rim of foreign beauty and Daddy’s games, the edge, the white border of a season.

Here’s the second story in a row narrated by a young child or rather the remembrances of a young child. In Harold Brodkey’s “Verona: A Young Woman Speaks”, the young girl – seven or eight if she remembers correctly – experiences so much happiness during a trip to Europe with her parents that she seems like she is going to burst. It’s like happiness on steroids.

One can’t help but enjoy her wonder and excitement as she travels across Europe like it was a magical land seeing things she might never see again. Like Isaac Babel’s “The Story of My Dovecot”, the reader also can’t help but realize something might not be completely right; however, unlike last week’s story, the reader doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong. There are hints that maybe all the money that her father spends on the trip and on his daughter isn’t going to last. And maybe the relationship between her parents isn’t altogether as perfect as it seems.

Brodkey allows the reader to be rest assured that this little girl at least had one “season” of great wonder and joy. Who knows what happens afterwards? I personally felt a little sad and jaded as I enjoyed the excitement but kept thinking “this can’t last forever”. But Brodkey at least did this reader a favor in not revealing how the happiness may have come to an end.

short stories century

This story is included in my copy of The Best Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike. I read it when I selected the Queen of Hearts for Week 27 of my Deal Me In 2018 short story project. My Deal Me In list can be seen here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

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