Gibbsville Story


On October 3, 1964, publication of "All Tied Up." The New Yorker. The Horse Knows the Way. Gibbsville, PA.

The year is 1955. From Steven Goldleaf's John O'Hara, A Study of the Short Fiction:

In "All Tied Up" a self-important, authoritarian bank president, Miles Updegrove, takes umbrage at one of his bank tellers because he wears loafers, albeit ones invisible behind his workstation . . . The (teller's) supervisor asks Updegrove if there is a reason he has been treating the teller with far less courtesy than usual. Through purposeful misunderstanding, Upegrove - never mentioning the loafers or his annoyance at them - escalates this discussion to the point where the supervisor is forced to quit his job. Page 86.

The more fully realized scenes and characters in his late stories enable O'Hara to develop the kinds of subplots that never appeared in his early one-scene presentations. The main plot of "All Tied Up," about a man browbeating a trusted subordinate and controlling his life in humiliating detail, makes a good story in itself but is etched deeper by the subplot's reiteration of the bullying that pervades all of Miles Updegrove' relationships. Page 89.


Steven Goldleaf said...

Interesting that the story is set nine years before publication date. Did I write that it took place in 1955, or did you figure that out from some internal evidence? Updegrove is one of O'Hara's most convincing monsters.

robert saliba said...

Story itself mentions 1955