David Bezmozgis, “The Train of their Departure,” August 9:
This story reminded me too much of other things I’ve read. There’s a pregnancy scare, and an abortion, and awkwardness between the man and woman after the abortion. We’ve seen it before (Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” is an obvious influence). Ernest Hemingway’s famous short story “Hills Like White Elephants” (which is about an abortion without ever mentioning that word) is an obvious influence.”
Polina, a woman living in the Soviet Union, gets married to Maxim, and it’s he who gets her pregnant and convinces her to have the abortion. Later, she falls for Alec, another man. Polina gets pregnant a second time from that affair, and this one, too, she will abort, but with the comfort of a nice doctor, not in a scary, harsh clinic like happened with Maxim (or so Alec promises her).
At the end of the story, she envisions their escape from Russia together. She will divorce Maxim, say goodbye to her sister, get the abortion and they’ll “slip the shackles of the Soviet Union.” The “train of their departure” approaches, so to speak. But this story was a forgettable one for me.