“Life Without Children”
by Roddy Doyle
from the October 19, 2020 issue of The New Yorker
Roddy Doyle returns to The New Yorker fiction section with a story that does not appear to be based on any current event, unlike “Ash” in 2010 and “The Curfew” in 2019. Here is how “Life Without Children” begins:
Once, years ago, when the children were children, someone had asked Alan if he had any — children. And he’d said no.
He hadn’t expected to say it; it hadn’t been part of a plan. It wasn’t a woman he was talking to. It wasn’t the possibility of sex that had pushed him to say it. He remembered it as a choice, a junction, yes or no. And — just the once — he’d gone for no, and for the rest of the evening he’d been a man with no children.
I’ve read some more of the story, and let me just say that this doesn’t look like a cheery story! Not only does the man when he ages seem to have no relationship with his children but he also considers himself a bachelor and his wife a spinster. Who knows — maybe it will end up being a bit more affirming of this man’s relationships than it starts.
I look forward to seeing your thoughts!