Background Notes: For One Night of Love

Journal Notes 17 & 21 October 1992

Yianni Tzan on Unsplash

October 17

Working on story “For One Night of Love.” Story is structured after (Emile) Zola’s story by the same title. It is a good experience for me to study the way this story is developed, etc. I’ve been attempting to tell a story with minimal dialogue. Coppola turned “Heart of Darkness” into Apocalypse Now & I hope one day to retell Conrad’s “The Lagoon” with a modern story line.

Distracted. Kids need help getting breakfast.

October 21

I began “For One Night” with a determination to finish it quickly… but it is a long story & it will not soon be completed, unless I make abbreviations. How much to tell? There are layers beneath layers.

I’ve begun sending out my stories again. I have quite a few now. Do I have anything I could call my “best work”? I love my little Lu Lee story. Or maybe the story is just O.K. and it’s lonely Lu Lee I love.

“For One Night” is evolving along a different track & now I am wondering if it is unworkable. Zola’s original is comprised of different characters, their own actions consistent with their natures. Would my own characters be as audacious as I’ve planned them to be? It is the moment of truth for Jeremy. How will he respond? Lisa is desperately alone. But would she do this to him?

It is not longing unfulfilled that births tragedy, but rather the birth of longings which cannot find fulfillment without tragedy that causes desperation and disgrace among men. Does the hero fly in the face of reason? Or does he resign himself to the dictates of fate?

For One Night of Love

by Ed Newman

Helmsboro, Minnesota, is a town undergoing change… rural, yet slowly being transfigured by the spread of housing developments and zoning regulations. The farming has always been difficult in these parts, due to the short growing season and hardscrabble land, hence after scratching out a living for as long as sensible most of the area’s serious farmers have sold out, subdividing their properties while encouraging their sons and daughters to pursue more promising careers in other fields. Many have migrated to the Twin Cities, though others have stayed behind, uncertain what to make of the changes taking place all around them. Because of its low crime and good schools, the area has developed a good reputation, attracting many new families into the community.

Jeremy Tanner lived in a farmhouse on the right-hand side of the Helmsboro Road, often called Old County Two, an old asphalt road that sweeps up and away from the city below. Situated on forty acres, nearly all of it once cleared, his grandfather built the house shortly after the Great War, saying, “First you build the cage, then you catch the bird.”

His father grew up on the site and imagined that Jeremey would raise a family of his own here one day as well. Since his father’s death nine years ago the land has remained neglected. Jeremy never took an interest in gardening, nor in any other kind of farm labor.

In the old days, Jeremy’s great-grandfather harvested hay for hops for a local brewery. The160 acres the Tanners then owned were some of the best in Helmsboro. His grandparents met at the farmer’s market, as did his parents. But it was hard work, and the Tanners were hard on their women.

Jeremy’s mother hanged herself in the barn when he was too young to remember so that it has been more than thirty years since the house enjoyed the attentive care of a woman’s touch. After his father passed away, Jeremy found employment as a pot washer and kitchen help at the Northview Country Club. The house and land were paid for so that his modest wages suited him fine. He had no career ambitions, preferring instead the cloistered solitude with which he surrounded himself at home.

THE REST OF THIS STORY can be found here:

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