‘The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road’ is anthology where every story has the central image of a wedding cake lying in the middle of the road. It’s a decent anthology, and it makes you appreciate how differently such an image can be interpreted.

Williams’ story is perhaps my favourite, a short prose poem of the fate of wedding cakes. For there are two types of wedding cakes: the real cake, “something small and tasty, just big enough so that everyone could have a little piece, and then they would have the fake cake, something outrageously showy and big, something that wouldn’t make a mess if a child accidentally bumped into it in the reception line and sent it clattering to the floor. The real cake was real, of course, and its tendency was to disappear. The fake cake was super-real and being made of plastic would stay around forever.”

In fact, the fake cakes are too long-lasting for their transient purpose. They get thrown out and dumped; in one case, in the middle of a road. Another joins it. And another. Soon there’s a rubbish heap devoted to plastic wedding cakes, but it’s a rubbish heap so appealing it becomes a popular picnic destination, to eat amongst the forest of wedding cakes.

Eternally Yours by Joy Williams

Availability: print only

Word count: 800

First published: The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road: 23 Variations on a Theme, edited by Susan Stamberg & George Garrett, 1992, W W Norton & Co

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