E.L. Doctorow: “Edgemont Drive”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. E.L. Doctorow’s “Edgemont Drive” was originally published in the April 26, 2010 issue of The New Yorker.

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I haven’t read anything by E.L. Doctorow before, though I’ve always felt I should. I have March on my shelf — have had it for quite a while on my shelf. This story didn’t convince me to start reading Doctorow immediately, but it didn’t convince me that I should disregard him either. It was so-so.

The story is told completely through dialogue. There are no indications on who is speaking, though it is not necessarily hard to follow (there were only a couple of times I had to go back to figure out who was speaking). It isn’t a terribly effective method because, to me, it calls attention to itself and doesn’t offer any immediacy. Plus, some of the dialogue felt overwrought (I don’t say unrealistic because I don’t care if dialogue is unrealistic — I can read Roth’s characters speaking all day long).

So what is this dialogue about? The setting is a house in the suburbs, currently occupied by a husband, a wife, and their three sons. Initially it is a bit earie because a man has been parking his old car in front of the house for the past few days. Turns out the man grew up in the house and, when he married, attempted to start his own family there.

I won’t disclose where the story goes because, honestly, the stranger’s motives and his insinuation into the home are what made this story interesting, and to see that revealed in dialogue is time decently spent. In the end, though, I am quick to look for something else rather than dwell with the story longer.

5 thoughts on “E.L. Doctorow: “Edgemont Drive””

  1. New New Yorker fiction forum up.

  2. I can’t say this one appealed to me — certainly an interesting structure, but it did not seem to go anywhere.

  3. Joe says:

    Same here, Kevin. To me, this was yet another “gimmick” (a short story told entirely through dialogue). That didn’t bother me so much this time, but the entire thing left me saying “so what…”

    In other news, I just received the May issue of the Atlantic Monthly. It includes a separate fiction issue. (Of course, fiction used to be a regular feature *every* month, but don’t get me started on that.) Anyway, I’m eager to see if they can improve upon the New Yorker’s dismal showing over the past few months.

  4. Ahh! I’m way behind this week! I haven’t read this one yet, and didn’t post the new one up this morning. Too much work! I think I might be slowing down a bit, and hopefully can participate again on my blog!

  5. Woo hoo! I finally got some time on my hands and finished this story a couple of weeks too late. My thoughts are in the post above. I believe they differ in no way from Kevin’s and Joe’s.

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