A long day's dying by Frederick Buechner

By Frederick Buechner

A protracted Day's loss of life is a mid-twentieth-century Jamesian novel that foreshadows some of the issues in Mr. Buechner's later writing—faith, belief, and the complicated relatives of friends and family. the tale follows Tristram Bone, a rotund guy of wealth and "organized relaxation" yet a failure with ladies, and Elizabeth terrible, a wealthy, fascinating, and lovely widow and Bone's unrequited love curiosity, via a chain of encounters with family and friends, affairs actual and imagined, gossip, jealousy, and innuendo. We additionally meet Bone's servant Emma and his puppy monkey Simon; the novelist George Motley; the smug and seductive educational Paul Steitler, Elizabeth's naïve son Lee, and her omniscient mom Maroo.

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As they were leaving the chapel she whispered. " He stopped walking. "Really, Elizabeth, I can see you've been drinking again. And after all the promises to Aunt Oyster A Long Day's Dying 29 after all my entreaties . . " His voice sounded as if it would break with grief. Then, sharply, "What choir stall? Who was crawling about~ Now think! Think! " He clutched her by the shoulders. "This is a monastery, you know. Stop that insane laughter. " He pretended now to be frantic, and his voice grew wilder and more highly pitched.

The animal was ubiquitous within the bounds of his master's apartment and could creep either silently or with considerable commotion from one room to the other just as he could, upon his arrival, either crouch unnoticed in a corner or gibber and scratch in full view of whatever company happened to be present. At the same time, it was impossible to deduce any set formula for the occurrence of these two phenomena as is possible, with a dog for instance, to know with some degree of certitude when and with whom it will bark, and when and with whom be silent.

Before her stretched the West Side Drive, and to her right the river lined with docks and the prows of liners. Her nu•mory pleasantly tilillat<'d, she wondered at the recurrence that day of a nostalgia connected with a particular portion of lwr youth, and only gradually realized that it was no coincidence hut the logical outcome of following, for the first time in some y1~ars, an old path, a series of old paths. Slw could Pn~n predict, onee this discovl·ry wa:> 56 A Long Day's Dying made, what would touch her next and speeded up to hasten it, but the predictions were largely wrong, or at least inadequate, for it was the unanticipated- that most affected her.

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