Brutal Fictions--Maeve Brennan

Maeve Brennan has a deft hand with the short story.  She is unsparing in her details, indeed brutal in incident. 

from "A Free Choice"
in The Springs of Affection
Maeve Brennan

Then he began laughing and he asked her if she had ever danced with a feather bed, and without giving her time to say no he told her to look over her shoulder and she found herself straight straight at Mrs. Fleming, who was in charge of the hat counter, and whose extravagantly towering hair arrangement was designed to draw attention away from her fatness, which was alarming, seeming to flow solidly not down to the floor but away from her and around in all directions, as though she grew larger as you watched. But Mrs. Fleming had been on the floor all evening. She had not missed a step, dancing around like a young girl with all the younger me, smiling brightly on everyone, like an empress.

The description of Mrs. Fleming's physique, is, in a word, brutal.  And it is entirely surprising considering the source through whom it is filtered--Rose.  What we have shown us here is that Rose, who is by far and away the most pleasant and likable of the people in these stories is, in fact, no more or less than any of the others.  What goes on inside is  every bit as ugly as what other people exhibit; however, Rose keeps it hidden.

It begs the question--if we spend out time thinking in these ways but never saying anything or acting on it, are we free from the taint that goes with the thought--or does that mode of thought eventually taint all thought and action so that it eventually shows?  I don't know if Maeve Brennan plans to address the question--but she at least poses it for us. 


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