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January 25, 2020


#AWW2020 Amy Witting

by N@ncy

  • Author: Amy Witting (1918-2001)
  • Title:  Marriages ( 6 stories, 139 pg)
  • Review:  Bottle of Tears
  • Short review: The Surviviors and Goodbye, Ady, Goodbye, Joe
  • Genre: short stories
  • Published: 1990
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2020
  • @AusWomenWriters


Bottle of Tears:

  1. Trivia: Bottle of Tears was first published 1958
  2. in the Southerly Journal (editor Kenneth Slessor)
  3. Trivia: Amy Witting is the pseudonym for Joan Levick.


What does the title mean?   Bottle of Tears

  1. You number my wanderings;
  2. put my tears into Your bottle… Psalm 56:8
  3. This is an allusion to a very ancient custom
  4. among the Greeks and Romans, of putting the tears
  5. which were shed for the death of any person into small phials
  6. …and offering them on the tomb of the deceased.
  7. This was another method people used in
  8. the past to remember, in this case to remember griefs.
  9. Rita recently had seen a dying man in hospital
  10. …..and could not forget his plight.
  11. “If I put my tears in a bottle and
  12. sent it to him it would be nothing,
  13. …a bottle of salt water
  14. …..what else is pity anyhow?”


Story was very cryptic.

  1. A few sentences between Rita and Matt could be interpreted
  2. in many ways but depending on the reader’s choice
  3. …the story could take  on another meaning!
  4. Here is the section that is the turning point:


  1. Rita: “I’ve changed my mind.
  2. You don’t have to change yours on that account.”
  3. “..feeling tired all at once, thinking
  4. …it would be a relief if the blow fell now.
  5. Matt: “You really mean it?”


  1. “Matt’s voice was full of reverence (awe, love)
  2. …not for her
  3. …nor for love but for good luck.”
  4. The story completely baffles me and the ending…
  5. well, I still wonder why Rita compares herself with
  6. “Gulliver tied down with threads.”


  1. But after reading it 3 x…
  2. my impression is that Rita refused
  3. …to accept a proposal of marriage
  4. …and now she calls him to say:
  5. “I’ve changed my mind.”
  6. The comparison with Gulliver that she feels ‘weighed down’ by the
  7. idea of marriage. That could be her first fear…as Rita says
  8. “…his happiness weighed her down with responsibility…
  9. ….as if  he had given her something fragile to carry.”



  1. I haven’t been so impressed by a writer since I
  2. discovered Thea Astley.
  3. Amy Witting ..she can nuance in a line
  4. that might take a lesser writer one page!
  5. Thea Astley and Amy Witting  were very good friends.
  6. Ms Astley even dedicated her book
  7. The Acolyte to Ms Witting.


Books by Thea Astley  (1925-2004)



  1. Bottle of Tears  is  a ‘classic’ short story.
  2. — the form is intensely compressed
  3. — there is more left unsaid…than is said
  4. — ergo the 3 x reading necessary to form my thoughts!
  5. — it occurs over a period of no more than 24 hours
  6. Rita is a dynamic character
  7. she learns and changes and realizes
  8. …what life would be without Matt.
  9. Matt is a static character
  10. …he was in love with Rita….and still is!


The Surviviors  (very ‘long’ short story)

  1. This is a comical and amusing look at….
  2. a young couple embarking on
  3. “…an accident waiting to happen” marriage:
  4. Kevin must marry Gloria…in a shot-gun-wedding.
  5. “A man would have done better to go to jail”.
  6. Marriage …”Twenty minutes, life imprisonment”
  7. Marriage: “….the past on her  face and
  8. …the future in her great belly.”


Goodbye, Ady, Goodbye Joe

  1. Just by looking at this title
  2. ….you wonder what is going to happen to this old married couple.
  3. Flood waters are rising and Amy Withing is a master
  4. …creating tension right up until the last page.
  5. First published in The New Yorker October 29 1965
  6. Some quick notes:
  7. Love in the “golden years” 
  8. …Joe’s thoughts about being old and romantic:
  9. “…Since then the lion had grown old and died
  10. …become a disregarded old lion skin warm to the body in cold weather…”
Read more from Uncategorized
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan 31 2020

    I never knew that Amy Witting was a pseudonym!



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  1. #Classic Alice Munro Nobel Prize 2013 | NancyElin

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