“How I Became a Vet”
by Rivka Galchen
from the March 13, 2023 issue of The New Yorker
This week we get a new story from Rivka Galchen. Her stories appeared regularly for a few years, but this is the first we’ve had since 2016. I’ve been wanting to read her 2021 novel, Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch (and I just borrowed it from my library to do so!). I actually cannot remember much about her stories I have read, so it will be nice to reunite.
Much like the great Barbara Comyns novel, The Vet’s Daughter, this is not the vet we might think of on first glance. Here is how the story begins:
When I say “vet,” I do not mean veteran. A veteran is someone formerly in contact with death on a regular basis. A veterinarian is someone currently in contact with death on a regular basis. A part of me is moved to specify that not all veterans have been in contact with death, nor are all veterinarians so on a regular basis. But I’m older now. I know that many people experience such clarifications as weird. Weirdness does, though, generate uncommon strengths. Such was my experience with the suicide dogs, who, like most of us, were not what they seemed.
I’m not sure at all what such a start might lead to.
I hope you’ll share your thoughts below! Have a good week!
Quite a nice story, esp the use of the title phrase in two meanings at the beginning and end. Lots of fine sentences and concrete descriptions mixed with abstract thoughts. I enjoyed it.