Deal Me In, Week 25 ~ “The Sepia Postcard”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Sepia Postcard” by Steven Millhauser

Card picked: Four of Diamonds

From: The Barnum Museum


Sometimes, I rather adore Steven Millhauser with his dreamy stream-of-detail “narratives.” Sometimes, not so much. Maybe I only really like his stories when they cross paths with the things I have a particular love for, like magicians and semi-fantastical museums. (I’m looking forward to a story entitled “The Invention of Robert Herendeen.”) Or maybe I just need to read him when my situation is more concrete and less dreamy than a Millhauser story.

Our narrator, in the midst of having problems with his significant other, retreats to a sea-side town named Broome. It’s the off-season and rainy. Bored, he visits Broome’s shops and, at Plumshaw’s Rare Books, buys the titular sepia postcard. The scene in the postcard seems to subtly change in alarming ways each time our narrator looks at it. Having satisfied his need to “get away,” our narrator leaves Broome. “The Sepia Postcard” is an okay story, but is very light on plot and a little muddled in timeline.  The town of Broome is very much like any little touristy town you might find yourself in, and the events played out in the postcard isn’t very surprising. As a story, it’s just sort of there.

Is This Your Card?

One of the few David Copperfield clips I have and it’s for a non-Copperfield-anthology story!

The music in the background is from the Young Sherlock Holmes soundtrack, composed by Bruce Broughton.

5 thoughts on “Deal Me In, Week 25 ~ “The Sepia Postcard”

  1. Pingback: Deal Me In – Week 25 Wrap Up | Bibliophilopolis

    1. Katherine Nabity Post author

      Yeah, I just got back (to Phoenix) from San Diego. Despite the traffic and the oodles of people, it was still nice being somewhere that wasn’t blazing hot.

  2. Jay

    So… In a way, it’s good to hear Millhauser can write stories that aren’t awesome sometimes (I’ve read and heard nothing but brilliant things from or about him thus far). Your description of this story makes me wonder how many famous characters in literature were driven by boredom into unfortunate or interesting circumstances. That might be a fun list to try to come up with! All I can immediately recall is the beginning of the first Sherlock Holmes book/story where Dr. Watson is kind of listlessly wandering around and half-heartedly looks for a roommate and meets Holmes. The rest is (literary) history.

    A postcard that changes also reminds me a little bit of the great M.R. James story,”The Mezzotint.” Have you read that one? I remember your DMI 2014 began with a James story…

    1. Katherine Nabity Post author

      Well, Millhauser’s “not awesome” is still pretty darn good and my mood had a lot to do with my opinion of it.

      Haven’t read “The Mezzotint.” I was reminded a little of “Oh Whistle…” while reading, probably due to the inn and the John Hurt adaptation of the story that adds an absent wife.


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