Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

July 23, 2009

Moonwalk Reflections (2): The Best Short Story Is…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:04 am

…”Just Back From the Coast” by Bruce Jay Friedman. It’s from his collection About Harry Towns brilliant short stories, feturing the hilariously self-lacerating title character that have been newly repurposed as a novel. (I dont have a problem with that.)

You really should read Friedman whose recurrent subject, the temptation and guilt of Urban Man has had no better expositor over the years.

In this one he’s having a fab trip to Beverly Hills; his marriage has broken up, his son’s lonely at sumer camp, but he’s staying at the pink palace of the Beverly Hills hotel on some movie producer’s dime and he’s finally breaking through to ” a special tribe of long legged golden women” who have haunted his El Lay dreams on past trips. While meanwhile Apollo 11 has taken off, and his son wants him to be back in New York for him and…

No spoilers, just that Friedman captures the contrast between the petty longings of the earthbound and the allegedly heroic dream the astronauts are fulfilling. It finds a new way of asking the ancient questions of literature and philosophy: why can’t we be better than we are? What does it mean to be a hero.

Another movie recommendation: the original Elaine May adaptation of Friedman’s short story “The Heartbreak Kid”. That’s Friedman’s theme: the advances of modern life are just new pathways to old heartaches. Did walking on the moon do anything to answer those ancient questions, soothe those heartaches? Hey, they played golf! Mailer captured the profound boredom of it long ago in Of a Fire on the Moon.

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3 Comments »

  1. …and bored us all to tears by calling and characterizing himself as “Aquarius”. At the Smithsonian last week, Mission Control boss Chris Craft discussed the wrecklessness of JFK’s moon challenge which was based on nothing more than wishful thinking. He said that the NASA engineers, out of desperation, reread Jules Verne! He also described how the deaths of Grisson, White and Chafee were the catalyst for the remarkable invention of the LEM, a fragile machine right out of “The Tempest.” If you want boredom, try a roomful of newsreaders at Cronk’s funeral, more fitting cheese for the Rosenbaum lance.

    Comment by charlie finch — July 23, 2009 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

  2. John Updike, Rabbit Redux, contemplating his mother’s mortality while watching the moon landing by her side…

    Comment by Tina Trent — July 24, 2009 @ 9:44 am | Reply

  3. Thanks Ron, sounds like a good one. I’m looking for great inspirational stories about life and aspiration for greatness. This sounds like it may be what I’m looking for.

    Comment by bestshortstory — September 5, 2009 @ 9:06 am | Reply


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