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Monday, September 21, 2009

Reader's Diary #526- Sherwood Anderson: I'm a Fool


The Horse Whisperer. Seabiscuit. Flicka: Stallion of the Cimarron. What do all these movies have in common? If you said they're all as dull as dishwater, then by golly you're right. They're also about horses.

I like horses, I really do. My daughter is beginning riding lessons in a couple week's time. They're fascinating animals that just seem to demand respect in their presence. Why then can't they make a decent horse movie? And how about horses in literature? Unfortunately Sherwood Anderson's "I'm a Fool" doesn't buck the trend.

I'll give him credit for the voice. The narrator of the piece clearly gets across his lack of education, his awareness of his social standing, and his naivete. But it's the use of colloquialism that held my attention: gee whizz, a chance like a hay barn afire, socks amighty. Did the people of early 20th century Ohio really talk like that? Jeepers!

But a voice without a story to tell is like a skunk without a stink. "I'm a Fool" is the story of a nineteen year old stable-hand who pretends to be something he's not to impress a girl and has come to regret it. Even back in Anderson's time that story was old and, I'm sorry to say, he brought nothing extra to the table. Stories with a moral should end like this... and since no one believed him anymore, the wolf devoured all the sheep and the little boy, too

or

and because those teenagers were up to no good, the scratching on the roof of the car came from the boyfriend's dismembered arm

not

I lied about my name and now she'll never write be able to write me back-- Gosh darnit, that sucks.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, leave a link in the comment section below.)

7 comments:

JoAnn said...

I think I'll skip this one. My favorite horse story has got to be Black Beauty..can't even begin to count how many times I must have read that growing up! Hope your daughter enjoys her riding lessons.
My short story today:
http://lakesidemusing.blogspot.com/2009/09/sisters-by-james-joyce.html

Chris said...

Socks Almighty! (I'm going to start using that one.)

John Mutford said...

JoAnn: I knew as I was writing that post that someone would bring up Black Beauty. To be honest, I read it is a kid but I don't remember if I'd enjoyed it or not.

Chris: It's actually "Socks Amighty" (without the "L"), but yes, I've stored that one away for future use, too.

Nan said...

It has everything; drama, human
interest, animal life. If it were written as fiction, no one would believe it. A man who practically, single-handedly brings the automobile into the American consciousness has a young son who dies in a vehicle crash. Three men, from the most disparate backgrounds, come together to bring the greatest horse ever into the limelight. Seabiscuit was more in the news than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini in that pivotal year of 1938. I laughed, I cried, I dropped my jaw in amazement. I loved the horse that died so long ago.

Nan said...

Sorry, John, I accidentally deleted the first part of my comment. I didn't get to read a short story this week. :<( And the only horse movie I love is National Velvet, but there is a horse book I think is fantastic. Here are my notes from when I read Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand six years ago. Okay, now read previous post. :<)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Equus

Bybee said...

I had to read this one in one of my American Lit classes and it didn't really impress me.

I read Shaking The Nickel Bush recently and was nearly buried in an avalanche of Jeepers! Like one in every sentence a particular character spoke. So maybe they did talk like that...