Sunday, March 2, 2014

Library of America Story of the Week Read-Along 216: Ring Lardner, Carmen (#216)

Ring Lardner, "Carmen" (1916) from Ring Lardner: Stories & Other Writings:

About the whole middle section of this piece is pretty much the definition of light comedy: a not-so-well educated man gives his rendition of Bizet's Carmen, mangling the names and plot, with some jabs about the unreality of opera (the knife that kills Carmen goes nowhere near her, so she musta died of heart problems). It's amusing if you know something about opera or Carmen (the implication here is that I do--the truth is I know very little); but it's very light--there's nothing serious or important or even laugh out loud funny about this section.

More fun (and in Lardner's wheelhouse) is the frame story, about a nameless narrator and his wife and their friends, and how they kid each other--sometimes not so nicely--about their cheapness and ignorance and all the other fun things that lower class people like to tease each other about. It's less jokey than the middle section and more painful and funny at the same time.

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