A Masterpiece of Passion

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Street Musicians of Prague – Karel Stroff

PET MILK: Stuart Dybek

At least three faces above seem, from their astonished or leering expressions, to indicate that the front of stage figure is flashing! A painting (entitled as above) is a significant prop (“The reflections of her beauty startled me.”) in the following story’s plot…

“Pet milk was the cream.”

Squirts of condensed milk as cream that are tactilely described, with touching homeland nostalgia, by this story of a young Czech couple in Chicago…where wireless stations…
“…the Greek station instead, or the Spanish, or the Ukrainian. In Chicago, where we lived, all the incompatible states of Europe were pressed together down at the staticky right end of the dial.”

Later…
“…repeated explosions, blooming in kaleidoscopic clouds through the layer of heavy cream.”

And the story’s climax of their copulating, as an inescapable urge of sexual and national frustration, on a train (“She was moving her hips to pin us to each jolt of the train.”) that resulted in others, with the train flashing by and then halting in a station seeing their intimacy, including by himself as a schoolboy in his native land… 

“…but that arrested wave stayed with me. It was as if I were standing on that platform, with my schoolbooks…”

“If he failed to float the cream, we’d get that one free.”

“It was the first time I’d ever had the feeling of missing someone I was still with.”

“‘To Europe!’ I replied, and we clunked shells.”

A masterpiece of passion!

***

Full context of this review: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2022/04/27/the-penguin-book-of-the-modern-american-short-story/

PS: note the elbow sticking out in 3-D!

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