I’ve got another recommendation–this time it’s not SF at all. I stumbled upon PRI’s Selected Shorts podcast, which is a show that features various people reading short stories of some note to a live audience. Often I like the stories, sometimes I don’t.
In this case, I quite enjoyed “Best Western“, a short story by Anne de Marcken (read by Laura Esterman). It’s the second story in this podcast. The first is good story–Rebecca Curtis’s “Twenty Grand” as read by Jane Curtain. But “Best Western,” in my opinion truly shines.
yesterday I heard “Best Western” and I don’t know why it should be worth reading. A mother and daughter drive along, stay at a “Best Western”. Although the mothern loves this “Best Western” she says – without any reason for me – “We’ll never come here again.” (Why didn’t she say: “I’ll never …”?). The daughter mentions a piano. That’s a mystery to me, as the whole story. Could you explain a little bit why you liked it or why it even got a prize?
I think it’s important to understand that the mother and daughter are driving this time without the daughter’s father–who has clearly passed. They qualify for the bereavement discount, afterall. So I take it from there that this is a final trip for them.
They will never come this way again because the father is not with them, this chapter of their lives are over. The daughter is grown. Time is moving on.
The piano, I think, is merely a symbol for all the little things that annoy people, for that is truly what is going on for the woman…she is constantly annoyed at the mother for some smallish slight, or for whatever personality differences that come between people who should be closer than maybe they are. The issue is not defined in the story because the details of the issue it’s caused are not important to the root of this relationship. What is important is that it’s occasionally been a rough relationship, but that at their hearts the two women share something important.
And for me, the last few lines are absolutely perfect.
Thanks Ron, that sure helped. I just listened to the story a third time. The piano is still a mystery to me.
Like I said, I think the Piano was just a symbol for something trival that two people fight about that in the end means nothing.
BTW — Are you the Herbert Huber who once worked at NAWC?
No, I worked only in Germany, since 1965, now retired. Herbert Huber is quite a common name here. The Munich phonebook once had 31 with this name.
Piano: I can’t believe the piano stands for something trivial. It’s a complicated gadget and it takes a lot of effort to play it. Anne Marcken could have thought of something more simple. On the other hand I think it has a certain meaning because it’s the only item from the past (as far as I recall it) that is mentioned.