Monday, January 30, 2012

Story: Ventures into Unknown Territory 51:70

Beneath the Cellars of Our Town by Steven Millhauser _1998_

Summary Non Spoiler

      Length:15 pages
      Genre: Fantasy-Milieu
      Summary: This story describes the subterranean homesick blues.  I am not sure if this story takes place in an actual place, or it takes place in the back country of our mind.   Millhauser does not make this clear. The author focuses the story not on action or conflict resolution, but on describing a milieu (the physical or social setting in which something occurs or develops.)
      It would be far truer to say that they bear no relation whatever to any period of history, but rather exist as a place apart-a place from which to contemplate the town coolly, or even to forget the town altogether.

      I am searching within the back-steps of my mind, stumbling down the stairs, leading to my filthy cellar, because my mind is attempting to find conflict within my subterranean blues. For I discover that I am, just like the author, a pale amphibian.

First Sentence of Story
Beneath the cellars of our town, far down, there lies a maze of twisting and intersecting passageways, stretching away in every direction and connected to the upper surface by the stairways rough stone.
One might argue that the aisles of a supermarket, bursting with colour, are far more exciting than our dull world below.
Last Sentence of Story
You who mock us, you laughers and surface crawlers, you restless sideways-sliders and flatland voyagers - don't we irk you, don't we exasperate you, we mole-folk, we pale amphibians?
What I learned about Writing
Milieu: Leaving things only in the milieu creates tension in itself, because we are searching for the normal patterns of writing.   
  1. The underground world delineated in "Beneath the Cellars of Our Town" recalls the author's 1986 novel, "From the Realm of Morpheus," which described a series of subterranean kingdoms.

Recommended To

  1. All those in love with Jung or Freud and find the interior of our minds to be a great maze full of intriguing passage ways.  Or those who liked watching Being John Malkovich.

Where to Find It
I read it in Millhauser's book The Knife Thrower published in 1998 by Crown.

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