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“I just wanted to see if we all couldn’t maybe find a way to get along,” Carlyle said simply.
Carlyle’s above understated request exemplifies the tone of much of William Melvin Kelley’s “Carlyle Tries Polygamy” giving it a humorous edge even though things don’t exactly work out for Carlyle Bedlow the way he might want.
At the same time, it doesn’t necessarily work out as bad as it could have juggling relationships with two different women. When the women meet, they end up getting along.
But the funniest parts of the story come in the form of the occasional paragraph in which the reader gets the thoughts of both women at the same time. Kelley uses a trick of alternating sentences within the paragraph with different accents and dialects to represent each woman: the brash and bawdy Glora and the Rastafarian Senagale.
The humor makes it enjoyable to read. But while I don’t think the story is a favorite, I would be interested in reading more of Kelley’s work.
I read this story when I selected the Five of Hearts for Week 35 of my Deal Me In 2018 short story project. It’s included in my copy of Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker edited by David Remnick. My Deal Me In list can be found here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.