Issue #116: A Splendid Life

Our new issue is by Carrie Brown, best known for her novels The Rope Walk, Lamb in Love, The Hatbox Baby and Rose’s Garden. Here she returns to short stories, which she last approached in her collection The House on Belle Isle. It makes sense that Carrie is primarily a novelist, because in “A Splendid Life,”she produces a story that has the scope and feel of a much longer work. I was only a few sentences in when I completely relaxed into the narrative voice and was compelled by the setting. When Peter faces his retirement from The Balm of Gilead, a home for the mentally disabled, he returns to his childhood lakeside home. It is not long before he is forced to face the memory of Mary Danger, a misfit girl whose attachment harassed him as a boy. The past and the present intertwine as Peter reminisces about their brief connection, and faces the waning years of his own life. Throughout the story is a larger theme of space and time, and how both shrink with age. This seems encapsulated by G.K. Chesterton quote: ” All my life I have loved frames and limits; and I will maintain that the largest wilderness looks larger seen through a window.” Carrie Brown has created her own frame with this short story; between the pages an expanse of character and place has opened, and its view is endless.

3 thoughts on “Issue #116: A Splendid Life

  1. This was my first ‘One Story’ experience.
    I was disproportionally excited when the envelope dropped on the mat.
    (After all it wasn’t containing a big, fat lottery win cheque.)
    It was just such a feet up, cup of coffee thrill to spend an hour lakeside with Petey.
    So looking forward to March.

  2. I absolutely agree that Carrie Brown’s story read like a novel. I have a thing for stories set at lake houses, probably planted by Amy Bloom’s “Love is Not a Pie.”

  3. Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.

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