“It is still there, now a thick fog, and again only a light mist.” — Henry Dean’s Heavy Boots

When certain words touch you, because they’re just so right, as approximately right as anyone can be about things like these. More from The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick, more from my favorite story of the collection, “The Oak and the Axe,” more from Henry Dean, more on that thing we have many names for and none of them right:

Truth, courage, and despair, in a desolate quality, were the attributes of his discourse. He said that when he was twenty-eight a kind of darkness had fallen upon him, a thing without apparent cause of definition, but the most real and painful experience of his life. “It is still there, now a thick fog, and again only a light mist.” He could not recover his old energy and happiness, his ambition. He just went on from day to day, enduring his cramped and knotted existence, heavy with a sort of temperamental fatigue and indolence, which were no his, just as his rather dimly lighted gray eyes were his.



  1. Sounds like you’re having a great time with this read. I still haven’t been able to get into short stories but your reviews of them have been nudging me in that direction.

    Still reading Freedom?

    1. And I will continue to nudge, haha. Love most of Hardwick’s stories, but this one’s just very special.

      Re Freedom: Nope. Couldn’t get a copy because the bookstore gave my reservation away. Augh.

  2. And you’ve got to love Hardwick for what she put up with in her marriage.

    Think twice before marrying a poet.

    1. I’m tempted to read “The Oak and the Axe” as a dimension of her marriage to Lowell. Goodness, I love writer’s lives. I think she said something like, “Lowell never married a writer who couldn’t write well,” at least. I’d recently read Jean Stafford, another wife of Lowell’s. Amazing.

      Also, I met my boyfriend at a writers workshop, haha.


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