Sunday, May 10, 2015

Library of America Story of the Week Read-Along 276: James Thurber, Lavender with a Difference (#276)

James Thurber, "Lavender with a Difference" (1951) from James Thurber: Writings & Drawings:

Maybe I oughtn't to call this "non-fiction" exactly. Or maybe I shouldn't call it "comedy": It's James Thurber's recollection of his funny mother and all the pranks she pulled. Well, judging from this piece, this is considerably less than "all" the pranks she pulled.

Mary Agnes (nee Fisher) Thurber was a frustrated actress, kept from the stage by her family's moral sentiments (in Thurber's telling); and that urge towards the dramatic and the outlandish and the fictional expressed itself in her pranks around town: throwing a carton of eggs (sans eggs) at a lady's luncheon; dressing up as an outlandish tycoon to buy a friend's house; cooping up all the neighborhood dogs in the cellar so that her dog-hating sister would face a tidal wave of them when she opened the cellar door, etc.

It's an incredibly warm and funny portrait of someone who wouldn't entirely let the social norms dictate her actions--even if she didn't follow her big dream of becoming an actress. It's a warm picture of the small rebellions of life, with no real trace of bitterness or tragedy.

Note: Yes, this is two week's late. No, I won't date it correctly, but use the scheduler to slip it in where it should've gone.

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