By Frederick Buechner
An extended Day's loss of life is a mid-twentieth-century Jamesian novel that foreshadows a number of the topics in Mr. Buechner's later writing—faith, belief, and the complicated relatives of friends and family. the tale follows Tristram Bone, a rotund guy of wealth and "organized relaxation" yet a failure with ladies, and Elizabeth bad, a wealthy, fascinating, and lovely widow and Bone's unrequited love curiosity, via a sequence of encounters with family and friends, affairs actual and imagined, gossip, jealousy, and innuendo. We additionally meet Bone's servant Emma and his puppy monkey Simon; the novelist George Motley; the boastful and seductive educational Paul Steitler, Elizabeth's naïve son Lee, and her omniscient mom Maroo.
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It looked like a Roman bust of the decadence of that empire, ponderous, sightless with eyes closed, and placid as a cloud or an entire bank of cushioned clouds on a day without wind. I lis loose, uncombed hair, thin and receding at the forehead, grew in profusion about his cars and might have lwen the tapering of a wreath or a dark break in clouds. She twisted about in her chair so as to face him, and \\as about to start reading again when he interrupted 48 A Long Day's Dying her by raising his soft fist and letting it drop to the arm of his large leather chair.
For this reason, although aware of the fact that his loyalty to Tristram as an older, better friend should dissuade him • and although somewhat depressed by this realization, he decided to tell her something of what he had observed earlier in the chapel. "Yes, indeed," he said, "in more ways than one. I had no sooner ducked down on my hands and knees in that unhappy thing when I heard someone coming into the chapel and realized it was too late to get up and away without being seen and too silly to stay where I was, and so of course I stayed where I was, trying hard to think of something else until I should hear this person leave again.
The only sound now was that of the traffic passing by, the anticipatory noise of gears being shifted from one level of effort to another, an occasional horn. She tried to remember at what time she had gone to bed and then counted up the number of hours she had slept. It was sufficient, more than sufficient, and she was relieved; she had imagined it less. The day ahead of her seemed immediately easier, for she thought of sleep as the ascent of a bird or a flyer-the higher ·you climbed the more effortless the journey down, gliding, wings caught up on the wind sometimes and carried along by it, or merely outstretched to give direction to the inevitability of descent, to guide easily a slow and undemanding progression.