Feed on
Posts
Comments
“Housewifely Arts” exquisitely demonstrates the desperate sadness that writers so covet and readers so enjoy. The prose is full of desperately tender moments which all absolutely cut me to the quick and seem all the more powerful coming from such superficially cold characters. Some of my favorites among these were the inner thoughts and descriptions that the main character made of her little boy. The moment when she held him back from going into the men’s toilets on his own particularly stuck with me. It propelled me, even as a self-absorbed college student, into the mindset of a young mother. I could feel the softness of his hair as she played with his cowlick absentmindedly, and I felt pangs of anxiety as she worried over the loss of his innocence.
Looking back on it now, I can’t imagine how Bergman could possibly have managed the same level of intimacy and intensity of emotion had the story not been written in first person. It seems impossible. For one thing, had she chosen third person, there’s a good chance I might have ended up absolutely loathing the main character. I wouldn’t have been able to forgive her for her flippancy and impatience towards her mother,  because I wouldn’t have been able to see her regret and desperation so closely. 
For me, it’s what made the story so successful. The author had a fascinating and poignant structure of parallel roles within the narrative (her own motherhood and her relationship with her mother; her need to preserve both her son and mother; the parrot and her mother’s closeness vs. her distance). The first person narrative (skillfully wielded) was the perfect lens through which to experience the story.

Comments are closed.