Short Story Review from: The Best American Short Stories 2004 – “Intervention” by Jill McCorkle

Welcome to a new feature on Book Club Mom. Short reviews of short fiction. This selection comes from The 2004 edition of The Best American Short Stories, edited by Lorrie Moore.

“Intervention” by Jill McCorkle from Ploughshares

In his excellent story about marriage and adult children, Marilyn and Sid, now retired, have settled into an alarming routine. Every evening, Marilyn watches Sid drink too much. And she’s let it slip to their daughter that she’s concerned. Sally is a take-charge daughter and quickly sets up an intervention, led by her social worker husband. Sally’s brother books a flight and they prepare to confront Sid.

Marilyn is sorry she ever mentioned it, but there is no stopping her children, who mean well, but cannot understand the complex dynamics between Marilyn and Sid. “You have to deal with Dad’s problem,” Sally tells Marilyn. Marilyn is also insulted that their marriage is under scrutiny. Whose business is it?

When the day arrives, despite their children’s careful planning, only Marilyn understands Sid’s reaction. Readers may look back and determine that’s the only thing that could have happened.

What’s great about this story is how the author explores the touchy topic of children taking charge of their parents’ lives. I enjoyed thinking about these dynamics and the opposing points of view. In addition, McCorkle shows the powerful influence of private understandings between husband and wife, which is both invisible to their children and not meant for them to know.

Jill McCorkle is an American author of eight novels and four collections of short stories. Her most recent novel, Hieroglyphics, was published in 2020. She is currently a faculty member of the Bennington College Writing Seminars and is affiliated with the MFA program at North Carolina State University.

I am never disappointed by the stories in this collection. I’m looking forward to working my way through it all.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

14 thoughts on “Short Story Review from: The Best American Short Stories 2004 – “Intervention” by Jill McCorkle

      1. Much happier now we are on half term. I’ve got a week to recover before the next one! I’ve been doing things like redesigning my blog which has been fun.

  1. I always enjoy a good short story. They make for a nice break between longer novels. And collections of shorts are awesome. I’ve been reading more of them.

    “Intervention” sounds like a compelling read with a close look at family dynamics, especially between parents and adult children. An excellent review.

    1. Hi Mae Clair – I have several Best American Short Stories collections, but not recent. What I have found in reading these is that the authors go on to publish a great deal of excellent fiction after that. It’s fun to look them up and discover how much they’ve accomplished since writing these stories. Thanks for the visit!

    1. They are really great – and they sneak up on you. By the end of the story, you can tell that it’s not a cut and dried situation. Thanks for stopping by, Jill. Hope you’re having a good Saturday 🙂

Tell me what you're thinking!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s