Sunday, 2 October 2011

Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy

I was watching this arts show, last year or the year before, The View, which ought to be called The Dim View because nobody ever likes anything much. Then a terrible and unprecedented thing happened; one after the other they agreed that Maile Meloy's Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It was just very good. This is to be read. And they were right. There's that clear and distinct prose that allows the occasional unstressed effect to drop you through the story levels like a fast lift. In Travis. B. Chet Moran who through a touch of polio and horse wrangling accidents has a limp.

His father drove him to Great Falls, where the doctors put a steel rod in his good leg from hip to knee. From then on, he walked as though he were turning to himself to ask a question.

His gait is almost a mirror of his mind. He has got into the way of taking on winter ranch minding jobs in Montana which he likes but he senses that he is getting too solitary.

He got afraid of himself that winter; he sensed something dangerous that would break free if he kept so much alone.

For a while he takes an office job in Billings but he realizes that his hip is not up to all that sitting around so again he takes a winter feeding job.

He made it through Christmas, with packages and letters from his mother, but in January he got afraid of himself again. The fear was not particular. It began as a buzzing feeling around his spine, a restlessness without a specific aim.

He's about 21, too young to be talking to his horse so he goes into town and cruises around for some pinochle action or something. There are lights on at the school and people going in so he joins them. He signs up for a class on school law. Beth Travis a young lawyer is giving the class. He talks to her after the class and thus a sort of relationship begins which is complicated by the fact that she has to drive back to the town where she has her day job, a nine and one half hour trip.

He wondered how he might court a girl who was older, and a lawyer, a girl who lived clear across the state and couldn't think about anything but that distance. He felt a strange sensation in his chest, but it wasn't the restlessness he had felt before.

Maloy has the ability to get into the mind of the young man. She's a friendly anima. Travis. B. goes on to its denouement with that accumulation of detail that builds a believable world.

Only a couple of the stories in the collection of 11 drop below a very high standard. If you like the short story form especially the American short story where they do what Ernie said they should, leave something out that only the author knows is left out, this is a treat.

No comments: