a weblog for readers and writers

Location: Baltimore-DC Area

Author who writes for a living and lives for writing. // WOMB: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing 2017) // TRACKS: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books 2011) // FLIGHTLESS GOOSE, a storybook for children (Writers Lair Books 2008) // www.EricDGoodman.com

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Remembering Thurber, Vesta, and the Story Behind the Story

Redux is an online literary journal devoted to given second life to stories that have been previously published in print journals. When I was asked late last year to submit, the first story that came to mind was “Out for a Walk.”

I was not a dog-owner when I wrote “Out for a Walk” ten years ago, and hadn’t been for nearly ten years, although I’d grown up with family dogs throughout my childhood and knew what it felt like to lose a dog. A friend of mine had recently told me about her difficult experience: her dog had bitten someone and she had to have the dog euthanized. Her experience inspired me to write this story, because it was an interesting situation, and it conjured up that sense of loss—a reminder of how strong the bond between a person and a pet can be.

“Out for a Walk” was one of those rare experiences for me in which the first draft felt good enough to submit—and was accepted by The Baltimore Review when they were still a print journal. In fact, it was my first short story published in a non-academic print journal. The raw emotion I felt while writing the story may be why it was so well received, and so quickly accepted.

It’s mere coincidence (with perhaps a bit of the subconscious mind at work) that when my wife, two children, and I went to the SPCA rescue shelter to adopt a dog, we were immediately drawn to Vesta, a black lab-vizsla mix, much like Thurber, the dog in my story with a “brown-black coat” and “chocolate eyes.” It wasn’t until my recent reading of “Out for a Walk” that I realized this connection.

When I pondered which previously published story I should submit to Redux, “Out for a Walk” immediately came to mind.

Then, another coincidence came this week when, for medical reasons, we had to make the difficult choice to put Vesta to sleep.

Life and death both imitate art.

This Memorial Day, I’d like to share “Out for a Walk” and the story behind the story, as published earlier this year in Redux.

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