I think the worst reaction you can have to someone’s art is to be bored and have no reaction to it. This story bored me. I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s not very focused and can’t seem to settle on what it wants to deal with.
We start when the narrator is in elementary school – I wasn’t sure if it was a boy or a girl narrator, though that’s my own prejudices since for some reason I thought it was a girl – and we learn a little about death through a few characters. We also learn the character likes to follow the rules and is a smarty-pants: likes to be smarter than everyone, but also wants to fit in.
I liked this first bit.
The middle part I didn’t get. Jesus showed up, offered to help him with his novel, the narrator refused help but gave Jesus $10 and then regretted not asking for help. We learn the narrator is obsessed with writing about Jesus and guilt and we’re given a few clues in the first part about this (he prays that Beverly will die, and she does), but because the story is written in these short bursts that I don’t believe the narrator has earned us believing anything about them no matter how much the author tells us we should.
The final part is a little better, but the narrator is so glib about death and paints his wife as a saint that there’s no character growth here. There’s no growth at all, really. No emotions are earned, the jokes i the hospital are bland, and I feel nothing when the narrator dies. There’s no emotional core here, no character to empathize with because the narrator is too busy being judgemental. And since we learn more about other characters (unreliability) then nothing here rings true because we’re not given enough of the narrator to really know him.
This started off well, but it falls apart pretty bad. I didn’t hate it, but I was bored to tears, too. And this story seems to follow a trend (at least as published in the New Yorker) of stories that are unfocused, with no real point, but have a few very well written lines sprinkled throughout: “Saints are not the easiest companions.”, and “I was working on my novel – don’t even ask…”
But really, “don’t even ask”. There’s nothing here.
“nothing is going to be all right. “
Attempted suicide. Like his friend’s dad? Though narrator failed.
“Saints are not the easiest companions.”
He had a personal Resurrection after suicide.
I didn’t really “feel” this one. Kinda boring, no point, a little to pithy. Meh.
Sounds like the narrator could do with some compassion. Maybe that’s why writing isn’t going well? No compassion for the characters?
He’s an old man now. The future?
Is it important we know how much the ambulance cost?
Not sure I like the story. Too scattershot, not focused.
Polio in 3rd grade, novel writing on a computer in this chapter. How much time? I think Polio I think the 50s
So Jesus has dropped by to say hello. OK, that’s unexpected.
He’s writing about guilt but he doesn’t know about guilt. Not sure what to make of the Jesus scene, to be honest
I like this story so far.
Equates Resurrection with Beverly disappearing. Something to believe in?
Ha! “I was working on my novel – don’t even ask…” great line!
It’s a guy narrator. Why did I think girl? Strange.
He married a teacher. Not surprised. He swears now, too. So much for bad language.
” I tried all the time to fit in and no one noticed that I didn’t… “
Narrator prays Beverly will die. That’s a thing a kid would do. Narrator is afraid of Beverly.
And Beverly died. Polio. We even got a sliver of foreshadowing with “clumsy Girl Scout shoes”
That’s why narrator remembered Beverly all these years.
Narrator likes being smart but is arrogant. Thinks it’s unfair they were tagged out in dodgeball because they weren’t paying attention.
Always follows the rules ,rules are important.
Beverly is back and is fun, she breaks all the rules.
Where did she go? Dead parent maybe? We get reference to Billy’s dead dad in the future.
Very short, quick details. His friend’s father hung himself “With his belt”, that’s one sentence. Details are important to the narrator, image is too. Narrator is judgemental.
Billy Muir could dodge a ball even though he was fat and slow but his father couldn’t avoid getting caught embezzling money.
Our narrator is a teacher’s pet, but she doesn’t like being told what to do and she thinks she’s smarter than everyone.
Hmm, why do I think narrator is a girl? Probably because a boy isn’t usually worried about being liked for being smart and clean, though some boys are. It could be a boy who has a crush on Miss Connolly.
My own prejudices should be explored more
Nice beginning. Sets the main character apart but also as an outsider who is afraid of being an outsider
Beverly LaPlante is no more. Did she die?
Seems about right for a second grader to remember this detail