Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Now That April’s Here” falls smoothly into thirds, like a simple sonata: Paris in the autumn, Nice for winter, and Paris again in April. Callaghan adopts a tonally flat, understated, ironic style throughout. His very title is an ironic adaptation of the famous lines that open Robert Browning’s “Home-Thoughts from Abroad”: “Oh, to be in England/ Now that April’s there.” Charles and Johnny wait months for their April in Paris, which begins with disagreeable rain and ends with their rupture. Charles, who professes to be an aspiring writer, writes for only a couple of weeks. Johnny calls Charles perceptive and delicate, but they both ignore the great museums of Paris, waste their time barhopping, are manipulated by a woman, and skip out without paying a large hotel bill. Finally, a second grasping female ends their supposedly strong homosexual friendship.

Callaghan caricatures the two boys with their synchronized tiptoeing, angular bowing, distinct finger mannerisms, and contrapuntal witty snickering and out-of-control weeping sessions. The subordinate male figures are lightly sketched, while both females are made unattractively fat and aging. No one seems truly happy, despite the romantic Parisian setting. That magnetic city of the Roaring Twenties is not presented in the round here, because the boys are almost totally lacking in perceptiveness. Their conversation seems to be amusing to others, but certainly not for reasons they ever fathom. Instead of jibing at others, these wastrels have cause to be ashamed of their conduct at every turn.