Deal Me In 2020 – Week 11
He breathed his inadequacy out there, breathed in her love and the grease of her travels and knew he had been lucky; that he had escaped the hungry darkness, once more.
Lauren Groff’s short story “At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners” is a happy story with a lot of sadness – maybe hopeful is a better description than happy. Jude lives in Florida with his reptile loving father and his reptile hating mother. As one might expect, Jude’s family life isn’t a good one; however, he survives it in spite of some tragic turns.
The story spans a significant portion of Jude’s life. It’s this aspect, in addition to a melancholy but hopeful tone, that makes this story reminiscent of Alice Munro. Groff fits into a short story what lesser authors would need to fit into a novel.
I don’t know exactly where the title might come from but I’m guessing that it could be the idea that while the earth is round perhaps some lives feel like it wouldn’t take much for them to fall off the edges or the four corners. At least in Jude’s case, these metaphorical corners are imagined but the fear is very real.
The Florida landscape plays an important role in the story, too, which makes me wonder how many stories I’ve read that are set in Florida. I couldn’t think of many. This story is included in Groff’s National Book Award finalist collection Florida and it makes me want to read the rest of the book not just because it may be set in Florida, too, but also because of the great writing and story-telling this new-to-me author appears to possess.
This story is also included in an anthology 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories edited by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor. This is the collection from which I actually read it. I selected it for my second wild card, the Two of Clubs, for Week 11 of my Deal Me In 2020 short story project. Check out my Deal Me In 2020 list here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.
Have you read anything by Lauren Groff? What stories have you read that are set in Florida?