Monday, August 17, 2009

"...crappy last lap"

John Barth’s new collection of short stories, called “the develop-ment” has a story called “Toga Party”. The setting is a gated retirement community near “The Chesapeake”. A newly settled couple throws a toga party as an open house to meet the neighbors. Barth is 79 now and his description of retired late-in-life life addresses deep subjects like, losing a loved one, inheritance, and sex. This particular story makes one consider mortality, and facing, as one character calls it, “…the crappy last lap”. I find it hard to judge these people, living a sedate life in a safe place, a gated community. Amid this idyllic setting, Barth paints a picture of subtle cracks and weaknesses, worries that while petty on the surface are very real and overwhelming to the people living there. Upon returning from the toga party, which does not go well, Dick and Susan decide not to take that “crappy last lap”.

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