by Graham Swift
from the January 18, 2021 issue of The New Yorker

In his interview with Deborah Treisman it is noted that Graham Swift didn’t write short stories for around thirty years, only recently returning to the form. I’ll admit, when I saw that he was the author of this week’s story my first thought was along the lines of, My goodness, he just published a novel; how is it he has another to the point that an excerpt is ready for The New Yorker? I’m not sure I’ve ever read one of his short stories, but I often enjoy his novels, so I’m interested.

That said I’m also slightly wary. “Blushes” is about, according to the interview, “a retired doctor [who] volunteers to help at a hospital that’s struggling with the coronavirus crisis, knowing that it may cost him his own health or even his life.” As I’ve said when a few other timely stories appeared in 2020, I’m just not sure I am where I need to be to engage with this in fiction. I don’t think it’s too soon or that anyone is wrong for writing and publishing this. Quite the contrary. It’s just me, and probably not a particularly brave part of me. But I think I’ll be able to read Graham Swift.

Here is how “Blushes” begins:

Dr. Cole eased his car from his garage, then stopped, out of habit, to watch in his rearview mirror the garage door slide gently down and the light above it extinguish itself. This had once given him an absurd, vain satisfaction; now it was his only goodbye. The car was expensive and comfortable, as was the house that went with it: large, sedate, islanded in lawns and leafage, like the others in the discreet crescent.

I hope you are doing well, wherever you are and whenever you are reading this. Please be welcome to share your thoughts below.

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