The New Yorker Reader: “The Woman of the House,” by William Trevor

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12/11/2008 2:00 PM |

Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis.

Actually though there’s The Woodman’s consideration of Richard Yates, and this description:

Yates’s early stories… are highly disciplined, formally chaste. Because "Revolutionary Road" became the decade’s great, terrifying indictment of suburban surrender, Yates’s stories are often likened to John Cheever’s, but they are closer to J. F. Powers’s: the same richly restrained prose, luxuriously lined but plain to the touch; the same anxious comedy; the same very cold, appraising eye; and the same superb ear for the foolish histrionics of speech. Out of the apparently diplomatic conformity of mid-twentieth-century American realism—the sort of style that made short stories commercially salable…

This is actually a pretty spot-on description of the archetypal New
Yorker story; “commercially salable” is especially interested,
especially since the New Yorker seems to be the last vestige of the
short story as tony cultural commodity.

This story is very much along those lines, give or take the ear — it’s
a taciturn number from a writer (and a regular in these pages) whose
tact in the face of minutely drawn sadness has made the “diplomatic
conformity” of his stories a virtue, albeit a too easily imitated (or
commercially packaged) one.