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an empty desert of enforced idleness

      The new Riverside apartment to which Hanneh Breineh was removed by her socially ambitious children was for the habitually active mother an empty desert of enforced idleness. Deprived of her kitchen, Hanneh Breineh felt robbed of the last reason for existence. Cooking and marketing and puttering busily with pots and pans gave her an excuse for living and struggling and bearing up with her children. The lonely idleness of Riverside Drive stunned all her senses and arrested all her thoughts. It gave her that choked sense of being cut off from air, from life, from everything warm and human. The cold indifference, the each-for-himself look in the eyes of the people about her were like stinging slaps in the face. Even the children had nothing real or human in them. They were starched and stiff miniatures of their elders.
      But the most unendurable part of the stifling life on Riverside Drive was being forced to each in the public dining-room.

ex Anzia Yezierksa, “The Fat of the Land,” in Edward J. O’Brien, ed., The Best Short Stories of 1919, and the Yearbook of the American Short Story (1920) :326-349 (342) : link

orginally in The Century 98:4 (August 1919), with illustrations by J. Henry : 466-479 (476) : link (hathitrust)

Anzia Yezierska (1880-1970)
wikipedia : link

12 June 2023