Friday, we were on our way out the door when we caught the tale end of a short story on NPR, part of The New Yorker Radio Hour. As is often the case when you come into stories in progress, it was somewhat confusing, but there was also something oddly familiar about the tone and words, both wandering and sad.
At the end of the piece, we learned the story was “Memorial Day” by Peter Cameron, a very well-accomplished New York City author who escaped the insular writing world habitually by taking on a day job in the early aughts at the front desk of a non-profit conservation group I worked at in my early New York days.
Though Peter + I weren’t close, he was always quietly kind and I admired the humility with which he placed himself in what could easily be considered a modest professional position, especially in light of his many novels, his frequent writing for The New Yorker, and the many books of his that were made into films. And, though Katie’s read more of his work than I have, from the excerpts I’ve read and the one reading we attended while still in New York, his voice has always struck me as introspectively emotional and deeply reflective.
His story “Memorial Day” is no exception.
If you have a subscription to The New Yorker, you can read the archive of the 1983 printing of the story there; if not, you can hear it over at NPR.