Wives or Inner Character? Free Short from The New Yorker

Thirteen Wives by Steven Milhauser


Click on the title above to be taken to this short story published in The New Yorker.


This short story is exactly what the title says, a man with thirteen wives. It starts with a short blurb from the husband but then breaks off into small chapters expanding on each wife and his relationship to them. This gives us a broader picture of a complicated relationship, one which I have to give credit to the Author's selected layout. 


The first question that popped into my mind while reading this was if the Author had experience with multiple wives. Nothing in his wikipedia bio talked about anything related to life relationships, so with that in mind... I continued to read this short story.


Going back to the story, I'll give you a glimpse of each wife:


The first wife is harmonious with the husband, so I'll name her Harmony. 

The second wife is comforting and nurturing, so I'll name her Solace.

The third wife is the biggest complainer ever, so I'll name her Sissy.

The fourth wife is perfect, one can only plateau or fall from there, I call her Apogee.

The fifth wife has me stumped... Although, I'm positive she should be named Cohort.

The sixth wife is stranger than the last; she can only be named Artiste.

The seventh wife is a copycat, so I'll name her Echo. 

The eighth wife entices with temptation, so I'll name her Cajole.

The ninth wife is distant and aloof, I believe the best name would be Automaton.

The tenth wife is sickly (my favorite chapter so far), I'll name her Anemia.
The eleventh wife gets things done, like a handy"woman", I'll name her Artisan.

The twelfth wife is full ISN'T and WASN'T, to name her is hard but she will be Cipher.

The thirteenth wife is about wishful thinking, I'll name her Ambition.


My hunch is that the Author may have meant for these wives to be within the main character, like personality traits. Not sure if I'm on the right track but it would be interesting to see what other people think about this.


I should probably let everyone know that this is a first experience/impression with Steven Milhauser, so this short story will either make me want to pick up one of his novels or steer entirely clear. I've come to the conclusion while this story might not be my cup of tea; I love the silly, fun and jesting style. I'm convinced I should check out more of his work.

Source: http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2013/05/27/130527fi_fiction_millhauser?currentPage=all