October 3, 2011: “The House on Sand Creek” by Thomas McGuane
Since McGuane has a novel coming out this year, and since I didn’t think this story came even close to being satisfying, I thought it surely must be an excerpt. But based on the Q&A with Thomas McGaune, I guess it isn’t. This is the second Mcguane story in TNY this year, and while I didn’t love the first one, I liked it more than I like this one.
Here’s the basic story (spoiler alert—because you don’t need to bother to read the story): small town lawyer marries Monika, a refugee architectural student from Yugoslavia and moves to the country—into a horrid house vacated by crazy people—but after a while she leaves him and moves home. Lawyer becomes acquainted with Bob, a crazy neighbor. Monika comes back, along with Karel, her child by a Nigerian businessman. Karel enjoys Bob’s company, especially while Lawyer and Monika are fighting. Bob kidnaps Karel, Lawyer summons the boy’s father, but Bob and Karel are found. Life goes on.
And that’s about it. Some of these characters are potentially interesting (Monika, for example, is impulsive and quirky), but in this story I don’t think they’re fully developed. Which is why I thought it was an excerpt. We do get glimpses of themes: the lawyer is fond of Karel and can’t help himself with Monika, who will surely leave him again; Bob is also delusional. Beyond that? There’s not much there.