So, I listen to the New Yorker: Fiction Podcast. Every month, a writer from today chooses a story to read that was previously published in the New Yorker, then there’s a discussion about the story. I’ve been listening for awhile, but the one story that really sticks out for me is Day-Old Baby Rats by Julie Hayden, published in 1972. It’s a short-story about a day in the life of a young woman in New York City. She’s an alcoholic, we’re there for her first drink in the morning, we see the city through her eyes, we hear her thoughts on everything she sees, and doesn’t see. It’s a gripping story of a woman, stricken by loneliness and anxiety, surrounded be millions of people.
Julie Hayden created a beautiful story in Day-Old Baby Rats, but Julie Hayden’s personal story is also sadly moving. She lived in New York City, had a story collection published, did regular writing for the New Yorker, she was doing things just about every writer aspires toward, definitely what I aspire toward. Still, today you can barely find a trace of her on google, by the time of her far too early death in 1981 her work was largely out of print, largely forgotten. Anxiety and phobia fueled her own alcoholism, she’d carry a flask, taking nips to numb her worries. Cancer ended her writing and her life. forever. She did these great things, but she still slipped and fell and ended badly. Her sad writing mirrored the sadness in her head, people found it beautiful, compelling, and yet for some reason, she died pretty much unremembered. It scares me how that can, and does happen. We all want our stories to end well, but sometimes, no matter what, they don’t. They just don’t.
I worry about my story.
Well, now that I know of her, I’ll remember Julie Hayden, and maybe this post might put her work in some new minds. It’s not much, but it’s something. She, and her work, are definitely worth remembering.12 comments
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