Edna reviews her life and relationships through free association and through the concatenation of objects that drift into her view.
Savage is not interested in the linear unfolding of the events in Edna’s life but rather in the meanings that have accreted to them as she introspectively mulls them over and tries to make sense of things. She’s been asked to write a preface to her late husband’s out-of-print novel, so she sits at her typewriter reviewing her childhood and their life together. On many days, she makes no progress on the task of writing, but she does allow herself the freedom to dip into the richness of her memory. From the past we learn of the strained relationship between Edna’s mother and father, the mother eventually running out on the family and remarrying. From the present we learn of Edna’s devotion to typewriters and the difficulties of finding a suitable ribbon, of the antipathy she has for taking care of her neighbor’s pet rat, of her reminiscences of travels with her ambitious pharmacist-turned-novelist husband Clarence. While Edna sees herself primarily as a “typist,” she’s actually a writer-manqué who tends to see life in literary and pictorial ways. About Brodt, one of her co-workers, for example, she opines that he “was not a communicative person; ‘a phlegmatic and awkward taciturn man’ is how I might begin to describe him, were I writing a story." Of course, the irony is that Edna is writing a story, and she finds herself at the still point of this turning world.
An engaging study of both the quirks and the depths of personality.