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                                                    Do You Like it Here?

On February 18, 1939 the short story Do You Like it Here was published in The New Yorker. Later in Files on Parade, The O'Hara Generation, and Selected Short Stories of John O'Hara.

The story also appears in Bennett Cerf's An Anthology of American Stories. This surprised me, because I thought O'Hara forbid his work to appear in anthologies. I've owned this Anthology since I was a teenager in the fifties, and I now recall that this was the first O'Hara short story I'd ever read. I'd forgotten that this is another of my favorites.

It's about a boarding school kid, tossed from school to school by divorced parents, accused of stealing a watch. Steven Goldleaf, in John O'Hara - A Study of the Short Fiction, discusses the ambiguities of the different interpretations, including O'Hara's own (pages 27-29); but the memory I have of this story is the description of the abuse of the power of authority by a master over a student in the nineteen thirties. That was the way it was back then.

Here's what I mean:

  "Hughes said you wanted me to report here," said Roberts.
  "I did," said Van Ness. He took his pipe out of his mouth and began slowly to knock the bowl empty as he repeated, "I did." He finished emptying the pipe before he again spoke. He took a long time about it, and Roberts, from his years of experience, recognized that as torture tactics. They always made you wait to scare you. It was sort of like the third degree. The horrible damn thing was that it always did scare you a little, even when you were used to it.
  Van Ness leaned back in his chair and stared through his glasses at Roberts. He cleared his throat.
 "You can sit down," he said.
 "Yes, sir," said Roberts. He sat down and again Van Ness made him wait.

On February 18, 1933, the short story Mrs. Galt and Edwin  was published in The New Yorker, later in The Doctor's Son and Other Stories.

It takes place in the lobby of  New York hotel. It's a short sketch of a mother/son relationship - a fifty-three year old single mother and her doting twenty-nine year old financially successful son.

1 comment:

RGK said...

"Do You Like it Here?" is a good story and one I enjoyed reading many years ago. It's time to revisit it!