Short Stories

Configuration of the North Shore
—R. A. Lafferty

  •   · Excerpt    
      "“I have let my business go down,” Miller said. “My wife says that I have let her down. My sons say that I have turned into a sleepy stranger. Everybody agrees that I've lost all ambition and judgment. And yet I do have a stirring ambition. I am not able, however, to put it into words.” “We'll put it into words, Miller, either yours or mine,” Rousse said. “Slip up on it right now! Quickly, what is the stirring ambition?” “To visit the Northern Shore, and to make the visit stick.”"  —R. A. Lafferty
       · Commentary
      “... one of Lafferty's best from the mythological standpoint, the conflict between the two [everyday and archetypal] realities takes on a multiplex aspect. Here a dream-quest for a much-desired Land is shown as diverting energy from a character's exterior life. His psychiatrist, recognizing the destination as the “Ultimate Arrival Nexus” whose individual achievement (paradoxically enough) confers incalculable benefit on the whole race, forces his patient to resolve the conflict in favour of external reality, then pursues the inner quest himself using spurious dreams to take him there. But the land he reaches, as he is unprepared to deal with it from his own resources, shows the face not of desire, but of fear.”
        —Sheryl Smith, Riverside Quarterly Vol. 7 No. 2 (1982)
         · 1997 Gardner Dozois, Modern Classics of Fantasy

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