I was running and listening to Joseph O’Neill reading Muriel Spark’s “The Ormolu Clock” in a The New Yorker fiction podcast and halfway into the story my battery died and suddenly there was silence. But why do we care about the Ormolu clock? I practically screamed. When I finally got around to hearing the rest of the story today, well, it was in the end a small jewel like the clock itself I suppose. Treisman and O’Neill have a nice discussion but neither mentions what I thought my own rather heavy-handed interpretation: Herr Stroh gazes intently with his binoculars at the writer (narrator is writing at the time, maybe tapping his head with his pen). The writer will tell the story. In the story, Stroh’s reality may well be inverted, and the passive slob becomes the transcendent victim. It isn’t time that erodes Ozymandias’ empire, but the story tellers.
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