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The Man Who Loved Levittown

The Man Who Loved Levittown

W. D. Wetherell
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjnd8
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  • Book Info
    The Man Who Loved Levittown
    Book Description:

    This book is characterized by narrative vitality and emotional range. In Wetherell's stories a suburban retiree's assumptions about the ethos of Long Island life are challenged and dismissed by a younger generation, a young English woman achieves miracles by dancing with wounded soldiers during World War II, a tennis-mad bachelor plays an interior game as real to him as an actual match, and a black drifter converts an Asian couple to his bleak vision of American life and finds strange kinship with them.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7885-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. The Man Who Loved Levittown
    (pp. 3-22)

    You realize what I had to do to get this place? It was thirty-odd years ago come July. I’m just out of the Army. Two kids, twins on their way, a wife who’s younger than I am, just as naive, just as crazy hopeful. We’re living in the old neighborhood with my folks four to a room. All along I’ve got this idea. Airplanes. P-40s, these great big 20s. We’re slogging through Saipan, they’re flying over it. DiMaria, I tell myself, this war is going to end, when it does that’s where you want to be, up there in the...

  2. If a Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood
    (pp. 23-38)

    They had lasagna for Thanksgiving dinner that year. The meatless kind. From a can.

    “Nothing like the smell of a good bird in the oven,” Mike Senior announced, scraping his boots on the doormat, inhaling.

    “Uh, Pop?” Janet whispered.

    “Yes, ma’am?”

    “Never mind. Happy Thanksgiving, Pop. Let me help you with your coat. There are a few things in the kitchen I’ve got to see to yet. Mike should be back any minute. I’ll leave you and Shawn to get reacquainted.”

    He smelled it all morning. He smelled it when he woke up in the cramped, stuffy bedroom he rented...

  3. The Lob
    (pp. 39-56)

    If Richard Uncle Richard were a tennis shot, it would almost certainly be a lob. Tall, balloon-faced at thirty-four, he seemed, as he sat fussing with his racket off to the shady side of the patio, like someone drifting into an imminent and not particularly difficult smash.

    “I have an announcement, everyone!” June said, swinging a fly swatter playfully past his head as though she were just the person to make it.

    Richard didn’t move. If he made a good lob in the literal sense, he made an even better one in the figurative one. A lob is a hopeful...

  4. The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant
    (pp. 57-64)

    There was a summer in my life when the only creature that seemed lovelier to me than a largemouth bass was Sheila Mant. I was fourteen. The Mants had rented the cottage next to ours on the river; with their parties, their frantic games of Softball, their constant comings and goings, they appeared to me denizens of a brilliant existence. “Too noisy by half,” my mother quickly decided, but I would have given anything to be invited to one of their parties, and when my parents went to bed I would sneak through the woods to their hedge and stare...

  5. Nickel a Throw
    (pp. 65-78)

    These are the things Gooden sees from his perch eight feet above the dunking tub at the Dixford Congregational Church’s Charity bazaar.

    The sun touching the ridge on the river’s western shore. Orange, underlining of black.

    The river itself. A canoe. A boy in a canoe lighting sparklers.

    A ferris wheel turning slowly clockwise, dipping into the people massed at its base.

    Strings of light. Lights as aural as sounds. Red snap, yellow crackle, blue pop.

    Refreshment stands. A tent on the town common. Lobsters held by the belly. Faces disappearing into wads of cotton candy, emerging pink.

    Individuals. A...

  6. Why I Love America
    (pp. 79-94)

    The station was better. All he needed there was a bag—the bag that had come home to him when Rufus Junior was killed—and the transit goons would leave him alone. “Going on Washington,” he would mumble when they shook him awake. “Going on Baltimore, going on D.C.” They were too stupid to ask for his ticket. He would watch them slouch across the waiting room toward the old men who had fallen asleep against the lockers, their nightsticks pressing against their bellies like hard brown dildos. “Assholes,” he would whisper, spitting. By the time they started shoving them...

  7. Narrative of the Whale Truck Essex
    (pp. 95-102)

    The whale died somewhere in Kansas and it’s a miracle we even got that far. The owners lost interest when attendance fell off and they began cutting back on the krill. The last shipment in Topeka had been a clear as weak consomme—its tail barely quivered when we pumped it into the tank.

    I looked around for the telegraph office while Peter and the Whale Girl watched the convertible.

    WHALE IS DEAD, I wired, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

    Squires had kidnapped it the night before. When we got up in the morning the truck was gone. Two treads of yellow...

  8. Volpi’s Farewell
    (pp. 103-112)

    The sixth grade is doingLa Bohèmein English—an abridged version especially for children. Volpi sits in the principal’s office waiting for the performance to begin.

    “You have to be so careful in casting the students,” the principal says, glancing down at a sheaf of test scores a secretary has just placed on his desk. “Your son is a good example of what I mean.”

    Volpi nods though he’s hardly listening. The principal’s window overlooks the playground which is empty this time of morning. A few limp jackets sway from the parallel bars, a half-inflated ball rolls back and...

  9. North of Peace
    (pp. 113-124)

    Are there laundromats in Russia? Little machines that vend coarse Soviet soapsuds, changemakers for reducing rubles into kopecks, huge Socialist dryers? Sanders wondered about this every time he pulled the peace van into a new Wash N’ Roll or Suds Bucket or Mr. Kleen. He’d like a crack at one if there were. He could picture the thick Olgas and stolid Ilenas leaving their tubs and coming over to him in twos and threes—shyly at first, in awe of the white dove painted on the van’s side, poking each other in hearty Russian ways, finally speaking to him, reaching...

  10. Spitfire Autumn
    (pp. 125-146)

    The funny thing is neither of us had even seen a Yank before much less danced with one. Here he was, a little dark man on crutches standing in the corner of the pub chewing a chocolate ice cream where what we expected was a tall dreamy cowboy with pistols and high boots. The very first Yank for two runaround girls of eighteen, and he turns out looking underfed, underpaid, and under-you-know-what, not the other way around like everyone was saying. But what was so extraordinary was he waschewingon the ice cream, not licking it like anyone else...