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Literature Fiction

By Frederick Buechner

An extended Day's loss of life is a mid-twentieth-century Jamesian novel that foreshadows a few of the issues in Mr. Buechner's later writing—faith, belief, and the advanced family members of friends and family. the tale follows Tristram Bone, a rotund guy of wealth and "organized rest" yet a failure with ladies, and Elizabeth bad, a wealthy, fascinating, and gorgeous widow and Bone's unrequited love curiosity, via a chain of encounters with family and friends, affairs genuine and imagined, gossip, jealousy, and innuendo. We additionally meet Bone's servant Emma and his puppy monkey Simon; the novelist George Motley; the smug and seductive educational Paul Steitler, Elizabeth's naïve son Lee, and her omniscient mom Maroo.

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Sample text

He's wanted me to for some time now. ~" "\Vouldn't want to guess," said Motley. " As he disappeared through the door Elizabeth went over to one of the benches, sat down, and tried to phrase a telegram in her mind. c H A p T E R IV TuE EXTENT of Bone's monkey's knowledge or, more exactly, of his ability to retain or to assimilate what he saw, was a matter for much conjecture and a question often considered but seldom expressed as if from a fear that, once asked, it might be answered. The animal was ubiquitous within the bounds of his master's apartment and could creep either silently or with considerable commotion from one room to the other just as he could, upon his arrival, either crouch unnoticed in a corner or gibber and scratch in full view of whatever company happened to be present.

After wandering from one room to another, down some more sagging stone stairs and along a row of cells, she reached a small door through which the priests once had passed who conducted mass in the chapel. She had to stoop slightly to get through it, and found herself directly next to the main altar several minutes after Tristram had left by the larger door at the rear of the room. Like him she had to wait for some minutes before her eyes grew· accustomed to the dim light, and even then she saw things only gradually.

It was later that night, considerably later, and long after Emma had turned to sleep and Simon to whatever wounds he sustained, that Bone and Elizabeth Poor returned alone and entered the living-room whence all signs of the earlier conflict had been removed except for the letters, which still lay on the floor where they had fallen. Bone noticed them there, picked them up slowly and examined each one before replacing it on the table much as in the theater the curtain will rise upon a servant who, by tidying up the implausible three-sided room, lends to it a greater reality, strangely soothes the audience by giving them time perhaps to recollect the part that they must play, and prepares the player himself for the first great shock of playing.

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