Just another barely remembered text
November 13, 2017 6:52 PM   Subscribe

I would like to find a short story that I read in the 80s or 90s. Very few clues.

It was a literary short story, maybe in a short story collection, or The New Yorker, (I've searched that already and no luck) or a small literary journal. It was about a young woman whose name was something like Ramona, Rowena, or... I think it was a 3 syllable "R" name. It was written in the third person. The story was a subtle piece about a young woman or late teenager having a moody depressed summer, perhaps nagged by her mother. It reminded me a little of The Bell Jar before Esther goes to the hospital. In the story I am looking for, the young woman had gained weight and was self -conscious but also a bit defiantly not self-conscious sitting on the beach. There was a line in the story about how she felt ugly and fat, and then the omniscient voice of the narrator says something like "Rowena, who was certainly not ugly and only temporarily fat,...."
It is NOT "Fat" by Raymond Carver. It is not "Fat Girl" by Andre Dubus. Almost certainly, this story was by a woman author.
posted by flourpot to Media & Arts (2 answers total)
 
Long shot - She’s Come Undone?
posted by Sassyfras at 7:44 PM on November 13


Felt like solving a mystery today.

A books.google.com search on "only temporarily fat" reveals that this short story published in Mademoiselle, volume 77, from sometime in 1973. (I linked to the search results, where you can see your sentence fragment nearly exactly as you remembered it, rather than the Google Books page which tells you pretty much nothing.)

After going down a few more google rabbit holes, I think it's a short story by jazz singer Susannah McCorkle called "Ramona by the Sea" (originally called "Ramona in Southland"), which won her an O. Henry Award in 1975 and was published in that year's O. Henry "Prize Stories" compilation.

That's as far as I could take it. But if you track down a copy of either that Mademoiselle issue from 1973 or the O. Henry Prize Stories 1975 anthology, I think you'll have your story.
posted by alyxstarr at 12:19 PM on November 17


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