William Maxwell, “Love”

41ABsJUmW9L._SS500_A pretty fifth-grade teacher dies of tuberculosis and her students mourn her loss.

(from Nothing But You: Love Stories From The New Yorker)

We meant to have her for our teacher forever. We intended to pass right up through the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades and on to high school taking her with us. But that isn’t what happened.

This story is so simple, so straight-forward that I couldn’t quite see its allure. I thought it was well written, but there wasn’t a whole lot more than what was happening on the surface: a pretty teacher dies and the children are sad. We don’t get to see how it affects them, what it means for them. Perhaps the first person plural kept me from attaching to the narrator sufficiently. Or perhaps I just found this simple tale unsatisfying, and wonder why The New Yorker found it worthy of publication.

It’s really short. You can listen to Tony Earley read it here.

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