So I have decided that I am going to start doing Short Story Saturdays. Why? Well, because I love short stories, and that’s ultimately what I went to school for [so, needless to say, I own lots and lots of short story collections], and hey, everyone has time to read a twelve[ish] page story.
So the first one I decided to read was L. Debard and Aliette: A Love Story by Lauren Groff. You can actually read it on the Atlantic Monthly website, if you want. I am reading it out of my copy of The Best American Short Stories 2007 Edited by Stephen King.
This story is about a rather mischievous teenage girl named Aliette Huber, who has a possible case of polio that has damaged her legs [I should also mention that it is set in 1918, during flu epidemic]. Her father, a very wealthy man, hires L. Debard – a world-class swimmer/ wannabe poet, to teach Aliette how to swim. Aliette actually knows who L. Debard is because, due to her illness, she spends a lot of time cooped up in bed reading poetry. Aliette begins to seduce L. Debard during their lessons together and a relationship blossoms between L. Debard and Aliette… and more stuff happens that I don’t necessarily want to talk about without giving it all away – but it’s a rather agonizing love story.
I love when a short story catches me off guard right off the bat. The opening paragraphs reeled me in and I couldn’t wait to continue reading. My favorite paragraph is when Groff explains who L. DeBard is, “a forty-three year old with a mighty set of pectorals, one chipped front tooth, and a rakish smile; a rumored Bolshevik; a poet, filler of notebooks, absinthe drinker, cavorter of the literary type…” it is a lengthy paragraph offering very strange and unique details about this man. You get to know him very personally through these random facts that Groff lists off.
It’s a pretty sad story, and at times I felt like it may have been a little too long or slow, but for the most part I truly enjoyed it. I think the thing that struck me the most is the word choice that Groff uses within her piece. She did a great job of carrying on the swimming/water symbolism throughout everything she wrote.
On to reading!