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Likely Stories -- The Field, by Robert Seethaler

A gripping story of love and death.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Robert Seethaler was the author of an extraordinary story of a young man who had a number of problems standing in his way. That novel is A Whole Life, and I found it to be sad but beautifully written. His latest novel is The Field.  This too is a gripping story of love and death.

The story begins, The Voices.  “The man looked out over the gravestones that lay before him as if strewn about the meadow. The grass was long, and insects were buzzing in the air. On the crumbling cemetery, where elder bushes ran wild, a blackbird was singing. He couldn’t see it. His eyes had been giving him trouble for some time now, and although it got worse every year, he refused to where glasses. (1).

“When the weather was good, he came every day. He would stroll around for a while among the graves before eventually sitting down on a wooden bench under a crooked birch tree. The bench didn’t belong to him, but he thought of it as his bench. It was old and rotten; no one else would trust a bench like that. But he greeted it as if it were a person, stroking his hand over the wood and saying, ‘Good morning,’ or ‘Cold night, wasn’t it?’” (1-2).

“Hardly anyone came here anymore. The last burial had taken place months earlier; the man had forgotten whose. He remembered another burial more clearly, many years ago, when the florist Gregorian Stavac was laide to rest on a rainy late summer’s day. Gregorian had lain undiscovered in the storeroom of her flower shop for more than two weeks, dust collecting on the cut flowers as they withered on the shop floor” (2).

The story continues, “Almost every day he sat under the birch tree and allowed his mind to wander. He thought about the dead. Many who lay here were people he had known personally or had encountered at least once in his life.” [   ] His mind begins to wander further. “The truth is, he was convinced that he could hear the dead talking.

He couldn’t understand what they were saying, but he perceived their voces just as clearly as the twittering of the birds and humming of the insects all around him. Sometimes he even fancied he could pick out individual words or scraps of sentences from the swarm of voices, but however hard he listened, he never managed to piece the fragments together so that they made sense” (3).

Hanna Heim. “When I was dying, you sat beside me and held my hand. I couldn’t sleep. I hadn’t needed sleep for a long time. We talked. We told each other stories and reminisced. I looked at you, as I had always liked to look at you. You were not a beautiful man. Your nose was far too big, your eyelids drooped, and your skin was pale and blotchy. You were not a beautiful man, but you were my man” (7).

Warning alert: there are some sad stories her.e The Field, by Robert Seethaler, are absorbing stories and readers are bound to shed some tears. 5 Stars!

Likely Stories is a Production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely, and Happy reading!