Name that short story (you'll see why I don't just Google the plot)
October 18, 2014 4:29 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone help me identify a literary short story I read 20-25 years ago? Description is possibly triggering/NSFW.

I'm trying to identify a story I once read in a literary anthology (possibly an old American university textbook). I read it sometime between the late 1980s and mid-1990s, and I don't think it would have been written before the mid-20th century. I believe the author was British or Irish; at any rate, the story seemed to be set in one of those countries.

The story took the form of a conversation between an older man and a younger one. I think the young man may have been an aspiring writer and the older man an established one, but I'm not sure about that. The older man was telling the story of how, as a little boy at boarding school, he had been groomed and then raped by a much older pupil. The younger man kept trying to reframe this as a romantic story of doomed young love, but the older man -- while he maintained a dispassionate tone -- was clear about the trauma and lasting harm it had caused him.

A few specific details I remember are:

- Early on, the abuser teases his victim in front of some of the other older boys by asking if he'd like to sleep with him. The child, naturally, doesn't understand the question and says something like, "You wouldn't like that, my family say I talk in my sleep." The abuser and his friends find this hilarious.
- After the rape, the child becomes physically ill and has to stay in the school infirmary. When the rapist hears about this, he sends a big cake or some other treat, but the child refuses to eat it and the staff give it to the other patients.
- As a young man, the victim vomits whenever anyone touches him sexually, until one day he tells a woman what happened to him and finds that it excites her. (?)

I've never seen this story again, and was just wondering if anyone recognised it and knew the title or author. Thanks!
posted by Perodicticus potto to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If it helps with Googling, I bet it appears on lists with Roald Dahl's Boy and Orwell's Such, Such Were the Joys.
posted by Leon at 5:32 AM on October 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Without being able to name the story, it sounds like something JP Donleavy might write.
posted by girlgenius at 2:43 AM on October 19, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for your help, guys. It turns out that this was "How to Write a Short Story" by Sean O'Faolain.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 12:31 PM on October 19, 2014

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