Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Mark of Caine - A Short Story by Roxane Gay - 2017 . From her debut collection - Difficult Women

The Mark of Caine - A Short Story by Roxane Gay - 2017 . From her debut collection -  Difficult Women

You may read today’s story here.

Roxane Gay is one of the most celebrated of contemporary writers, for her essays as well as her fiction.  This is my second venture into her work.  I hope to read all of her work, Essays, Novels, Short Stories and her memoir Hunger.

I first read the lead story   in Difficult Women, “I Will Follow You” in June of this year.

“I Will Follow You” is about two sisters and their very close relationship.  The story begins with a scene with the older sister, her boyfriend and the younger of the two sisters.  We learn a bit about the men currently in their lives.  About twenty five percent into the story we learn about something horrible that was done to them as pre-adolescents that shapes their remaining days.

This is a story of a woman married to an evil man and having an affair with his twin brother, a decent man.  This sets the  stage

“My husband is not a kind man and with him, I am not a good person.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and he, Caleb, is kneeling over me, his fingers tracing my neck. I place my hands over his, the rough skin, the swollen knuckles. I squeeze.
I wear heavy eyeliner and dark lipstick because my husband once said that he always wants me to look the way I did the night we met in a bar, drunk and numb, looking for trouble before it found us. He can't stand to see me any other way, he said. He wasn't being nostalgic.”

Clearly not exactly a relationship that brings out the best in either partner.

“My husband has an identical twin, Jacob. Sometimes they switch places for days at a time. They think I don't know. I am the kind of woman who doesn't mind indulging the deception.”

There really are two Brothers, not two sides to one man.  They run an architectural firm.  Jacob has a girl friend.  Sometimes they switch places and women can tell only by their behaviour.

I don’t want to convey more of the plot of this acute story.  The ending is fascinating.

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