There are so many losses in this collection, not all of them with a burial and services. “Forain” is like a set of nested dolls, except that one loss is tucked inside another—and another, and another.
There is always a trade-off in Forain’s view. He is critical of the weather conditions at the funeral, the slippery nature of the steps leading into the church. It’s after-the-fact, but he presents his observations as though he knew that someone would fall, long before it happened.
He almost sounds a little resentful, believing that others must have had the same premonition, but they did nothing to avert the disaster. Which left Forain to take the woman to the hospital. Where he had to cover her costs. So that the whole world, from the weather-makers to the funeral attendees, was conspiring to place more responsibility on Forain’s shoulders. Those beneficent and bowed shoulders.
The story is titled for our humble publisher, but one could argue for the title of “Tremski” instead. Readers learn so much about his life and experiences through this tale. But always through Forain’s perspective, and about matters that the publisher deems note-worthy.
Forain’s observation, for instance, that many literary people like Tremski “live adequate lives without wanting to know what had gone before or happened elsewhere”; it reveals Forain’s disdain and doesn’t necessarily reflect anything true about Tremski.