What is this story with a model town in it?
April 11, 2015 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Forgotten Story Source Filter: I recall a short story or episode in a novel where a reclusive member of a town builds a detailed scale model of the town, which also reveals he knew the townspeople's secrets. What was it from?

My rough recollections include the following:
  • Story took place in a small town
  • The scale model might have been part of a model train track setup
  • The man who built the scale town is not present in the story. He either died or moved away.
  • The people of the town first want to exhibit the model as a tourist trap, to raise money and get the town some notoriety.
  • After this, people begin to notice details that reveal townspeople's secrets. For example, a married woman's bedroom has a figurine of her and the postman together, rather than her husband. This shows she's been having an affair.
I get the feeling it was part of an anthology or novel I read in high school English class, if that helps.

I probably have a few details wrong. Thanks for your guesses!
posted by mccarty.tim to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Peter Carey's "American Dreams" checks for a man who builds a scale model of his town, in secrecy, and upon his death the perfect miniature is revealed, with its secrets for all to see. I can't seem to find the story, but here's a brief synopsis.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:15 PM on April 11, 2015

Snippet from Carey's story:
Everyone I knew was there in that tiny town. If they were not in the streets or in their backyards they were inside their houses, and it didn’t take very long to discover that you could lift off the roofs and peer inside.

We tip-toed around the streets peeping into each other’s windows, lifting off each other’s roofs, admiring each other’s gardens, and, while we did it, Mrs. Gleason slipped silently away down the hill towards Mason’s Lane. She spoke to nobody and nobody spoke to her.

I confess that I was the one who took the roof from Cavanagh’s house. So I was the one who found Mrs. Cavanagh in bed with young Craigie Evans.

I stood there for a long time, hardly knowing what I was seeing. I stared at the pair of them for a long, long time. And when I finally knew what I was seeing I felt such an incredible mixture of jealousy and guilt and wonder that I didn’t know what to do with the roof.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:22 PM on April 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

There was an episode of Raising Hope with this plot.
posted by w0mbat at 4:26 PM on April 11, 2015

That's it, MonkeyToes! Thank you!
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:41 PM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

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