I have an abiding fondness for the tragic, under-sung artist and Anderson is one of them. He has an astonishing ability with character and this piece is one of the best examples of him showing off his craft and huge empathy. An old woman is responsible for feeding things: cows, men, dogs. The fact is that her entire world has fed on her, and Anderson chronicles her life and solemn death with such wisdom and tragic understatement. The ‘dog scene’ is unforgettable. It’s that bold eye, that truth-seeking, that intense regard for small things, that precision of language, that kindness, that gets me every time. Read everything he has ever written, I say. And slowly.
First published in Death in The Woods and Other Stories, 1933, Liveright. Read the story online here