Tuesday, October 31, 2023

the last book I ever read (Onlookers: Stories by Ann Beattie, excerpt eleven)

from Onlookers: Stories by Ann Beattie:

She drove past the theater where her nephew had acted in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days when the actor who played Willie came down with meningitis. When she went to the performance, she realized, she’d been wearing the same coat she was wearing now, which she’d left folded on the seat reserved for Case, though he hadn’t been able to make it, working late on his upcoming trial. She remembered Ashton’s saying that in England, willie was slang for penis. It had been distressing, seeing Jonah in that play. In a way, it only slightly exaggerated how unemotive he already was, put upon by the chattering, heartless Winnie, whose name—now that she thought of it—might have come from the sound horses make. What staging! Jonah and the actress had been plunged into matching mounds, painted to look like duplicate heads of Donald Trump, so that the audience instantly understood the political implications of everything they heard. Hadn’t Beckett been one of those playwrights who insisted on having things staged exactly as he wished? Though, of course, he was dead.

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