By Frederick Buechner
A protracted Day's death is a mid-twentieth-century Jamesian novel that foreshadows some of the subject matters in Mr. Buechner's later writing—faith, belief, and the complicated family members of friends and family. the tale follows Tristram Bone, a rotund guy of wealth and "organized relaxation" yet a failure with ladies, and Elizabeth terrible, a wealthy, fascinating, and gorgeous widow and Bone's unrequited love curiosity, via a chain of encounters with family and friends, affairs actual and imagined, gossip, jealousy, and innuendo. We additionally meet Bone's servant Emma and his puppy monkey Simon; the novelist George Motley; the boastful and seductive educational Paul Steitler, Elizabeth's naïve son Lee, and her omniscient mom Maroo.
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L\Iotley maintained a vacant, noncommittal expression that would scarcely have deceived any observer more attentive than Elizabeth into imagining that it made no great difference to him whether or not she consented to accept his suggestion. Clearly enough, the difference it made was vast. He ran his fingers along the edge of the table. What had seemed his defeat, her unsuccessful reaction to his account of Bone in the chapel, could be altered completely now by her consent. He wanted to rush over and shake her by the shoulders until she answered affirmatively.
30 A Long Day's Dying "Well. And how is that going to work into your story~" "Oh, I'm not sure yet," he said, "I'm not sure yet whether I'll even use it, but when I work on a scene I always like to have all the possibilities at hand. You can never tell when it mightn't come very much in handy to be able to use a choir stall as a trysting place or hiding-hole or more or less anything you can think of, and though it might seem unimportant to some as to whether or not it's actually possible, whether there's really room enough in a choir stall, that's the kind of accuracy I believe in.
What they learn from me is that they're never going to have it so good again; that the great ones, the o~es they read, saw it all as pretty black. I'm nothing, you see, if not trite, but what really gets me is the sense that I'm instructing a lot of beautiful, healthy children in the use of crutches, which at this point in their career is a morbid and rather pointless lesson. " said Elizabeth. Lee laughed and turned to his friend. Although slightly nearsighted, Elizabeth, so that nothing might damage the charm of her dark brown eyes, tragic and wide apart under straight brows, wore no glasses but carried instead a miniature lorgnette, for which she now searched in her purse, unobtrusively and on her lap so that Steitler, who was speaking to her son, would not notice.