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First published in The New Yorker (February 12, 2001): 80-87. 

From a French interview during the February 2000 publicity tour for "25 Histoires d'amour": 

TCB:  My wife? As I've said on TV last night, I'm her sexual slave.  So, she takes me for granted. She's happy that I'm selling books, making money and paying the bills, but she doesn't pay that much attention. The last story of the new book, which I should have included in the love stories but it's too late, is the only story I've read her that didn't make her fall asleep, the reason being it's called "My Widow". It takes place 30 years from now, she's the star of this story and it's very evil. But I figure since love and death are exactly the same, I will put this story into the death volume. She likes my work, she realizes that I'm an artist, I've always been interested in powerful, commanding women. I guess that's what you see of these women in the stories.

Interviewer: Isn't it difficult to live in couple when you write such horrible things about it?

TCB:  No, I think that the fact I'm the slave of a woman makes it easier, because I have no other chance. I clean the house, I pay the bills, I make love to her and that's it. I think it gives me the stability to write these stories and imagine all the scenarios, some of it is from personal experience, but a lot of it is invented or from the experience of my friends. Most of my friends are bachelors and I write about their love lives and experiences. This is the real test of friendship, because it's not always a very favourable story to them. (laughs) 
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Posted by Mimi Carmen on February 10, 2001:

Dear TCB

When my last New Yorker came, I knew you were there somewhere waiting for me. Not Barbara, or Ruthie, or Sandye, (or that French guy I kinda like too) just me special, like a chocolate you save until last, anticipating the decadence, the taste, reaching beyond fondest expectations, so I've held off reading, savoring the cover, wondering what's waiting there? My own preference is the chewey caramels, which I save and look at before I nibble. But if
it turns out to be the soft squishey kind, dripping with gooey, smooth cherries and coffe cream, that's fine. Happy Valentine's Day, TCB. Best Mimi 

Posted by TCB on February 11, 2001:

Dear Mimi: Thank you for the kind wishes. I was pleased that "My Widow" was chosen for the Valentine's Day issue of The New Yorker. It is an odd and very personal story, which, I hope, also contains an element of sweetness, pure and unadulterated. (Not saccharine.) I did enjoy the legend on the cover of the newsstand issue: "T. Coraghessan Boyle on his widow." Such sweet sorrow, no? TCB. 

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Posted by shirley r. ottenstein on February 11, 2001:

Just read your latest story in the New Yorker. I truly loved it. At the end of the story I shed a tear. The story was so tender and full of understanding for an elderly woman. Whenever the dead husband, said, My Widow, you could feel thelove that the couple must have had. 
Thank you,

Shirley Ottenstein 

Posted by Juan Martinez on February 13, 2001:

In Reply to: New Yorker Story posted by shirley r. ottenstein on February 11, 2001:

I liked it a lot as well. That splash of benevolence, "because this is a good and fitting universe I'm constructing here," was fantastic. It also got me thinking of other stories and novels whose narrators happen to be ghosts.

Offhand there's Nabokov's _Transparent Things_ and the last paragraph of "The Vane Sisters" -- and also Alice Walker's _Possessing (sp?) the Secret of Joy_ -- Rulfo's _Pedro Paramo_ -- I'm sure there is also at least one Robertson Davies novel w/ a ghostly narrator (_World of Wonders_,maybe?)... -- can anyone think of any more? 

Posted by stephen on February 13, 2001:

In Reply to: Ghosts posted by Juan Martinez on February 13, 2001:

The Robertson Davies book was Murther and Walking Spirits, I believe ... my own addition to the list would have to be The Third Policeman, by Flann O'Brien. 

Posted by TCB on February 13, 2001:

In Reply to: Ghosts posted by Juan Martinez on February 13, 2001:

Dear Shirely R. Ottenstein and Juan Martinez: Thank you for your responses to the story. It is enormously gratifying for me to know that I'm connecting with people out there, and with you specifically. TCB. 

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Posted by Mary on February 14, 2001:

What a perfect story for the middle-aged person to read on a rainy Valentine's Day! Although I'm with Ruthie on cats, the cats (and the chronically lost pocketbooks) serve an important function. The widow was in need of some flaw- just a little dottiness- to temper the inherent superiority and natural strength that enabled her to outlive everyone but her younger sister, avoid the nursing home, and subdue all interlopers.  Not to mention keep her pretty dimples and her own teeth.

So, how much life insurance should one consider to cover lifetime roofs and gutters? 

Posted by BArbara on February 15, 2001:

In Reply to: My Widow posted by Mary on February 14, 2001:

Ruthie will be pleased; however, for the record she has never squeezed a cat to see what's inside. ("Eeeew! It would get cat guts all over my rugs.")

My favorite was the sentiment about the 2nd husband being a golfer. That pretty much tells me all I need to know. The bad clothes with designer labels; the small, sporty rag-topped vehicles with the storage area that just so conveniently accommodates a coller full of beer; the bonding rituals back at the clubhouse--hell, this isn't a sport, it's a fraternity for the AARPs!

Posted by TCB on February 15, 2001:

In Reply to: My Widow posted by Mary on February 14, 2001 at 22:25:14:

Dear Mary: I love your interpretation. Very soothing to both me and my widow. TCB. 

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Posted by Georgia Fox on February 15, 2001:

I read My Widow last night (New Yorker), and laughed, but also was deeply deeply moved, especially at the end of the story. It reminded me so much of my own mother during her last days in her house (also in Santa Barbara), with the cats and the lost purses, as she glided into the early stages of dementia. My Widow is a wonderful story. 

Posted by sandye on February 15, 2001:

In Reply to: My Widow posted by Georgia Fox on February 15, 2001 at 00:55:03:

i really liked it, too. it read to me like a very sweet valentine to mrs. boyle.


p.s. of course, i am a cat-lover, too. 

Posted by Al Yonan on February 15, 2001:

In Reply to: Re: My Widow posted by sandye on February 15, 2001 at 03:51:35:

I quite agree, Sandye, a touching story with a delghtful dose of wit.
Regards always-


Posted by TCB on February 15, 2001:

In Reply to: Re: My Widow posted by sandye on February 15, 2001 at 03:51:35:

Dear Georgia Fox and Sandye: Thank you so much. There is sweetness in the story, I hope, but it is tempered by, shall we say, a little satiric critique?  TCB. 

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© Copyright 2001 Sandye Utley

Last Page Update: 16 March  2001