‘Shot of Short’ #36: Aesthetic Discipline by Carolyn Cooke

Title: Aesthetic Discipline by Carolyn Cooke
Date Read: 18 May 2009
Available Online?: YES (as one of the stories posted by Harper Perennial on their website Fifty-Two Stories, which promises a new (or classic) short story from their collection, posted every week throughout 2009)

Briefly: The narrator relays the story of her relationship with former boyfriend Karim Brazir, with an emphasis on her memorable visits to the heavily stylised parental home of her partner; a home which houses Mr and Mrs. Brazir, a couple whom the narrator considers ‘eccentric but irresistible’.

Afterthoughts: I’ve got to admit from the outset that this story didn’t really engage me. This has absolutely nothing to do with Cooke’s writing, which is beautiful and very accomplished at times, and all to do with it not being a story for me. I did love the principle character (the narrator), especially for her exquisite observational qualities, and I also loved Mrs. Brazir, who is beautifully characterised, but the story as a whole wasn’t on the kind of wavelength I could get myself tuned into. Don’t let me put you off though. I’m sure you’ll love it (probably).

Notable Quote: “Our effects were arranged constantly and picturesquely by Mrs. Brazir, and controlled by her; the disorder of the tree was a monument to wit; was itself a witty imitation of something. You’d find the arms of one of his Brooks shirts tied neatly around the waist of Mrs. Brazir’s peignoir, things like that. Mrs. Brazir was the most glamorous woman with whom I ever shared a dressing room. She wore a vial of perfume between her breasts, which she uncorked over the second cocktail in the evening, upended against a finger, and daubed in her cleavage.”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn’t bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).