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Stafford, Jean

The Interior Castle

I’m more than a little eager to introduce this bit of Jean Stafford– in fact, the last time I was this eager, I was about to jump out of an airplane, an activity I was undertaking using age-faked identification, which was, to the best of my memory, the only time I’ve ever vomited directly onto the feet of an airplane pilot (the pilot then said this wasn’t the first time his feet had taken ablutions this way). And wait, I don’t mean to conflate Jean Stafford with my own underage retching.

I’m more than a little eager to introduce this bit of Jean Stafford– in fact, the last time I was this eager, I was about to jump out of an airplane, an activity I was undertaking using age-faked identification, which was, to the best of my memory, the only time I’ve ever vomited directly onto the feet of an airplane pilot (the pilot then said this wasn’t the first time his feet had taken ablutions this way). And wait, I don’t mean to conflate Jean Stafford with my own underage retching.

Well, actually, I mean to do exactly that. The pain as rendered in tonight’s story is as visceral as words can create, and while I know your constitution can take it, I wanted to give you a chance to brace yourselves. Which is not to say that this is a story about pain, or one of those gruesome hyperviolent boy’s club tales that are all the rage* in certain circles. It’s not even a story about coping (although there’s plenty of that). You’ll have to listen to get the whole extent of the way she handles the body-mind wrestling match. But again: brace yourselves.

For those of you who just listen and don’t bother with my introductory pap, perhaps now is a good time to put your eyes to the above. I’m not fooling!

And about those round food monks mentioned in the story’s introduction, my mind will explode if it doesn’t implore. What do you think?

*a pun.

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By miette

Miette has been podcasting the best of world literature's short fiction since March 2005, when she was just a pup.

6 replies on “The Interior Castle”

I haven’t listened to this cast yet (thea is still brewing, cookies are lurking on the table), but is this story somehow linked to saint Theresa’s Interior Castle?

thank you for the stories Miette!

Ward

Well, Ward, it seems a clear tip-of-hat to Saint Teresa and runs thematically right alongside her. Curious to know what you think after a listen (hbe you read Saint Teresa??) Hope your tea was just right.
xo
— Mtte.

I am about to read St Teresa, she’s the patron saint of a school where I’ve taught, so I wanted to know more. Ever since reading St Augustine, I realized there might be more to these saints then I previously thought. I’m a Belgian, and historically saints and Catholicism are a bit different here than what is generally understood under it. I’ll keep you posted if anything interesting passes by!
I listened to the cast now, made me flinch at times… first with pain for the character, then a deeper kind of flinch, like missing something in the corner of your eye. Left me wondering why the pain seemed to feel more real to me than it seemed to the character itself!
wonders in words that is, how strange the ways carefully chosen words (and eloquently read of course!) can change the whole day, week, or maybe change only than one piercing second… more please!
Wrd

I started listening to this and didn’t know you were just introducing the story with some smalltalk about round foods. I thought that was the beginning of the story–I even thought to myself “what a wonderful beginning to a story!” HA

As for the actual story: it was painful and it made me squirm but by the end I wasn’t sure what was the purpose or the point of it. Perhaps there wasn’t one. I do admire it for the vivid language, but I feel like I probably missed something. Any ideas?

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