Shorts : The Abandonment by Joshua Ferris
8th August, 2016
I have not read a lot of stories by Joshua Ferris. I must add it is his voice that first attracted me to him. I once heard him read out Going for a Beer by Robert Coover in the New Yorker podcast and fell in love with the way he reads. That story is an all time favourite of mine and if you have the time I highly recommend you to listen to it. Here is a link.
And that is why when I saw Joshua Ferris’ name pop up on the New Yorker fiction pages, I had to take a look.
Coming back to the story in question, The Abandonment is a wondrous read. A man is wandering about the city thinking his wife has left him. He has a perfect life though – a perfect wife and a perfect home, yet he is search of something familiar (or unfamiliar?). The wife had gone out to buy bagels for breakfast and hadn’t returned for almost five hours. What does he do? There is an artist ( also a mother of three) who struggles to balance her passion, children and marriage. There is the wife Naomi, who is mysterious throughout the novel.
Here is a line from my favourite paragraph. I wish I could include the whole thing, but it would give away the story.
“When something hit the pan and sizzled—he pictured her running her finger down the length of the blade, sliding the garlic into the hot oil—he was reminded of what, in fact, was best in life.”
The story beautifully executes the thought process of a husband who thinks his wife has abandoned him. Ferris captures the desperation of a wife and how marriage and motherhood sometimes drain them of their sexuality and personal space. I loved how as the story progresses my definition of ‘home’ changed as well. The writer has the talent of delving deep into the anxiety that gnaws a human mind from within. In few words this is the story about family, how to define ‘home’ and what a marriage requires.
You can read an online version of the story at The New Yorker fiction.
Have you read Joshua Ferris? Any stories you would want to recommend?