There are some similarities among the three stories, the previously unpublished one which leads off, "My Grandmother's Foot" deals in part with importunate men, disability, and at least one woman with unbreakable spirit; "Old James" (from the Kenyon Review) touches on similar matters. But "The Dead Women" is a brief story about a mortuary cosmetologist, as she goes about her work on various cadavers, including one old man but mostly women, trying to suss out how they best would've liked to be presented for the last time, while being interrupted by her father and her father-in-law, importunate old men (and one with a damaged foot), and thinking about how she has been coping and will cope with her pregnancy, as the various tasks we read about occur at various stages of her gestation; happily, her husband is utterly supportive, if mostly "off-stage" in the narrative, but she has nothing but good memories of her man, while doing her best not to be too distracted by the older gen and their chatter and attempts at charming bluster. It's a solid story, makes its points reasonably subtly, and reflects some of Young's early experience in the rural Midwest.
Herbert Gold's obituary in The San Francisco Chronicle (his hometown paper for most of his life). (Courtesy Gordon Van Gelder) ...The New York Times obituary, courtesy The Buffalo News
|Not the correct issue of Metronome, either! See below.
This story was actually published not in the issue of jazz magazine Metronome pictured above, but like the American Prefaces issue pictured above, its a poachable image of an issue of the venerable music magazine, devoted mostly to jazz for some decades by 1961, within some months of it, too, folding, at the end of '61...even as the magazine was branching out into interesting, even avant-garde fiction as well as music coverage...the January issue (which can be read in its entirety at that link, though I haven't yet fiddled with it enough to copy the cover image), with the Gold story, also includes an early English translation of Alfred Jarry, and Jack Gelber's court-driven crime story, "The King of Shades"...along with such more usual Metronome content as Nat Hentoff's assessment of the Third Stream (the confluence of jazz and classical music, ranging from George Russell, and Max Roach and Jimmy Giuffre in some projects, Teo Macero and the Brubeck Quartet and the Modern Jazz Quartet, to Gunther Schuller and David Amram, to Ellington and Gershwin and other earlier explorers), and a featured item by a young jazz journalist, Ted White (not yet assisting at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, much less editing Fantastic and Amazing), a profile/albums-review piece about Charles Mingus's work (speaking of those who would enrich the Third Stream) that particularly pleased Mingus for Getting what he was doing, and which I take to be White's proudest achievement in his early jazz journalism.
Sadly, even the distributor label on the cover of the January Metronome, Acme, boded ill...Acme, ironically, was a bottom of the market magazine distributor, and even though they would distribute the no-budget Robert Lowndes-edited Magazine of Horror and other worthy titles in the years to come, were not a sign of robust commercial prospects for any magazine.
A somewhat healthier commercial property, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, decided to pick up the Gold story for reprint in their September 1961 issue (which can be read at the link), as edited by Robert P. Mills (the most famous story published during the Mills editorship might well still be the most famous the magazine has ever published, the short form of "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes--though Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" and Stephen King's first version [and terrible juvenilia as first published] of "The Gunslinger" are among the challengers there). The F&SF reprint is lacking the couple of illustrations in the jazz magazine (one of which doesn't reproduce well at all online, alas, at least apparently), but the filler that follows "Boston" is its own kind of curiosa, being one of the "Ferdinand Feghoot" pun anecdotes that Reginald Bretnor would write for the magazine, signing himself as "Grendel Briarton", and in this case crediting "Herman W. Mudgett" with inspiration for the pun which ends it..."Mudgett" being one of the names of the Chicago Exposition Devil in the White City murderer and a pseudonym that "Tony Boucher"/William White would use, in his capacity as F&SF editor before Mills, to sign short light verse used as fillers in his issues. The joke is premised upon a 1967 crisis at Fort Knox that is solved mostly by still-president John F. Kennedy, Sr., "still alert and decisive"...which takes on a special poignance, particularly for his admirers, considering this is the 60th anniversary of JFK's assassination (and the wounding of John Connally) as I write this...
For more of today's Short Stories, please see Patti Abbott's blog.