An old man’s story about the world of his youth, now foreign in its rules and social codes, a world now passed away. And this is no doubt for the best, although the mysteries of others persist. Re-reading this story now, one is reminded how we all are destined to become older, and we all must make some accommodation with the way the cultural rules change, with the problems that attended to the culture that raised us up, and the ways in which we were complicit in all of it, when perhaps we should have known better. In this way, this quiet story is frightening.
First published in The New Yorker, May 1974. Collected in The Old Forest and Other Stories, Doubleday, 1985