Now why does this title sound so familiar? I have never read this story before - or anything by Thurber, for that matter, but the name is one I have heard before. A quick search led me to the movie made of this little short story starring Danny Kaye (which Thurber apparently hated). Even more surprisingly, apparently a remake is currently in post-production starring Ben Stiller and Sean Penn.
Walter Mitty, a beleaguered husband drives his wife in to town to run some errands. The drama in the story is limited to a very dull afternoon in which Walter Mitty drops his wife off at the salon, parks the car, attends to some purchases and meets up with her after her hair appointment. On their walk back to the car they stop off at a drug store for another purchase. That's it! I haven't given anything away here; the actual action is only the backdrop on which the real story occurs. Emasculated by his nit-picking wife, his social awkwardness and his absentmindedness, Walter Mitty creates for himself an adventurous, heroic (and very masculine) inner fantasy life. His daydreams and his reality intersect and we are given a glimpse into this "secret life." This story reminds me of nothing so much as Calvin and his alter-ego Spaceman Spiff, and makes me laugh in the same way. I wonder if Bill Waterson was influenced by Thurber?
A wonderful story, tightly packed, and short with perfectly timed flow and humour. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this little gem. I liked it so much that I will avoid the movies!
|James Thurber created cartoons for The New Yorker.|