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"...what people in Holt thought she would have to be..."

I really like this opening paragraph of the second section of Kent Haruf's Where You Once Belonged. The narrator describes Jessie, the sudden bride of the protagonist Burdette; Burdette both first met and married her during a weekend business trip to Tulsa, thus forsaking Wanda Jo Evans, his sainted girlfriend of eight years.
She was the exact opposite of what people in Holt thought she would be. That is, she was the exact opposite of what people in Holt thought she would have to be. If Burdette was going to marry her, if he was going to leave someone as beautiful and selfless and long-suffering as Wanda Jo Evans was and then marry someone else, she would have to be something. At the very least she would have to be some husky-voiced Oklahoma version of Jayne Mansfield or Marilyn Monroe.
But Jessie soon proves to be the opposite - quiet, reserved, introverted - and it's clear that Burdette will soon tire of her, rethink his impulsive act and move on.

(The scene is set in 1971, when Jayne Mansfield references were still relevant. Marilyn, of course, is timeless, with references to her own desirability likely to remain appropriate for the indefinite future. I'm imagining Marilyn with a husky Oklahoma drawl. Rowwwwl.)

November 29, 2012 in Books | Permalink

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