A Trout in the Milk

A Story

by James William Brown

Dear Mr. Brown,

I'm a young writer who's leaving a comment to say I admire your story "A Trout in the Milk." The storyteller's voice is very plain and unobtrusive, and the subject matter--an ordinary, natural death (albeit of an extraordinary person)--is such a "normal" part of daily life: but behind the simplicity of language and ordinary situation lurks such a revelation about what life should be lived for. The story's ending clicks into place when the "door" closes and the light goes out in his mind. I never saw Thoreau come alive like this, not when I was grumpily reading him in high school. I see from your author picture that you are an older writer, and your simple but resonant storytelling voice reminds me of classic writers like Chekhov. I hope that by the time I'm your age, writers will still be able to write the way you do.

Oh, I agree with Anna. And for those of us who are older it's a comforting view of death. One worth holding on to.
Also, as a godless Unitarian and an admirer of the transcendentalist view, I must say that that I am able to reflect on the " voice of God" described . . . and linger for awhile. What more could a reader ask for in such a short work? Kudos

Oh, what a beautifully realized piece of work! Your depiction of slipping through various levels of consciousness and the morphing quality of dreams is especially effective.

James William Brown, author of “A Trout in the Milk,” offers his interpretation of the love triangle between renowned philosopher and author Henry David Thoreau, his older brother John, and his supposed lifelong love Ellen Sewall. Brown brilliantly combines fact and fiction in his short story. Brown’s vivid imagery allows readers to understand Henry’s love for nature and his brother. On his death bed, Thoreau recounts memories of his brother, aunt, and home of Concord, and it is these constant and abrupt changes from past to present that make this short story so intriguing.

Your piece really touched me in myriad ways: Henry's longing for the relationship he and John shared before Ellen reminds me of my strong and enduring friendship with my sister; Henry's ambivalence, at first, in regard to his vocation and his (possible) role as husband; his admitted relief at receiving Ellen's refusal (oh, but was it really hers alone?); and his rather subtle mention of a yearning not unlike Whitman's. . . . Thank you, James William Brown.


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