Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pet Milk

I love this story. Dybek manages to take the smallest details and illustrate just how personal they are to the narrator. This story is like a quick glimpse into the narrator's life, the meaningful details of his memories, those of his grandmother and girlfriend Kate, the Pet milk and the similarly meaningful cream in the King Alphonse drink- seeing the same 'swirling sky' in two significant worlds within his life. The narrator takes us from the image of cream and coffee on Grandmother's table to a standstill moment with his lover, and he is mesmerized by these moments of deepening; her reflection in the window is beautiful and he longs for her, accepting the reality that she might not always be his, and in fact she isn't- as long as he is an admirer of her existence, an infatuated man. The narrator is humble in presenting Kate as someone he is with in the present, but already missing from his life- illustrating his longing for her as he knows she will soon be a part of his past, a beautiful memory like the Pet milk in his instant coffee, and again in the King Alphonse drink they shared so many times together.
I think what is profound about this piece is the way the author ties everything together, creating a small window into a much bigger picture. This short story is written like a web, or a mind map, details and events stemming from one another but fitting perfectly in one whole picture. One detail is not significant with out the next.


  1. I completely agree with your analysis and found it rather insightful. While I did see the story about the meaningful details of his memories as you said, I hadn't thought of the story as structured as a mind map and though this was rather interesting. I really like how in the end he again doesn't see his life and the events that occurred in the story in the present but as a passing memory, as he visions himself as a little boy standing on the platform watching his life go by.

  2. I also loved this story and I think you did a great job capturing its essence. I agree that Dybek's details were oh so necessary and gave the story great illustrationa and warmth. Bravo!

  3. "One detail is not significant without the next" - that's a very apt description right there. I agree that the narrative's details were decidedly co-dependent. The observation of the little boy watching his own life flash by was something I hadn't caught - a kind of self-distinction from his own life. I think you hit most (if not all) of this story's nails right on the head.


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