3

"Wifey Redux" is a short story by Kevin Barry and I am at a loss as to what the author meant by that title. Literally, it means Wifey Brought Back, but there is no indication in the story which suggests that the protagonist has fixed the marriage.

5

One of the central themes of the story is how the protagonist's daughter closely resembles his wife at a similar age. He begins the story by describing his relationship with his wife, all the way from the beginning to now, particularly dwelling on the sexual parts. This segues naturally into discussing his daughter, whose teenage self he introduces into the story as follows:

The difficult central fact of this thing: Ellie is now seventeen years old and everything about her is a taunt to man. [...] Now understand that this is not about to get weird and fucked up but I need to point out that she is identical to Saoirse at that age. I am just being brutally honest here. And I would plead that the situation is not unusual. It’s just one of those things you’re supposed to keep shtum about. Horribly often, our beautiful, perfect daughters emerge into a perfect facsimile of how our beautiful, desirable wives had been, back then, when they were young. And slim. And sober. There is a horrid poignancy to it. And to even put this stuff down on paper looks wrong. There are certain people (hello, Dr. Murtagh!) who would see this and think: your man is bad again. So I should just get to the story of how the trouble started. And, of course, it concerns my hatred for the boys who flock around my beautiful daughter.

Continuing on to the main plot about his daughter's relationship with Aodhan, and the father's increasing worry about it culminating in the promised conclusion of the story. As the editor remarks:

this story comically exposes the conflict between our fetishization of youthful sexuality and our prudish hypocrisy about it once we become parents.

In this context, it seems pretty clear that "Wifey Redux" refers to the fact that the protagonist's wife (whom he calls "Wifey", and dwells on her sexual appeal to him) has been brought back in the form of their daughter and her sexual appeal to young men such as Aodhan.

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1

The title is obviously also a homage to, or play on, Rabbit Redux by Updike. The word redux has been more commonly used since its publication. Wiktionary says this:

The word may have re-entered popular usage in the United States with the 1971 publication of the novel Rabbit Redux by John Updike,[1][2] although it had previously been used in medicine, literary titles, and product names.

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