The New Yorker: "The Proxy Marriage" by Maile Meloy

May 21, 2012: “The Proxy Marriage” by Maile Meloy
I loved this story, except for the beginning and the ending. Regarding the ending, I suppose I shouldn’t stay too much, although (a) the story is online for free and I urge everyone to read it and (b) there is something of a spoiler in the Q&A with Maile Meloy. While I am not opposed to happy endings in general, when they are overly sentimental (sealed with a kiss!), they spoil the whole reading experience for me.

As for the beginning, I had just finished explaining to a student why she needed to reconsider the overabundance of the verb “to be” in her story. And by “just” I mean immediately before I read “The Proxy Marriage.” Count ’em. In the first paragraph, containing five sentences, “to be” is used six times. Ugh. Kids, don’t try this at hime.

So, none too promising, the beginning leads into a nice story about William and Bridey, high school pals. He loves her (but is shy), she’s oblivious. At some point they begin to serve as proxies for weddings, a strange thing that Montana law apparently allows. It kills William. Bridey still doesn’t get it. They go off to college and live their lives, occasionally coming back and doing more weddings. Until finally one of the couples is present by Skype and wants the wedding sealed with a proxy kiss. William kisses Bridey, instant chemistry, and their lives are changed forever.

There’s some great dialogue and William especially feels real. (I loved it when he goes from college in Ohio to graduate school in Indiana and his girlfriend at the time berates him: “You’re tired of Ohio, so you’re going to Indiana?” she says.)

So. It’s a nice story. She lost me with the ending.

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