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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Friday, November 21, 2014

Story about bohood and cruelty in current New Yorker

Pretty good story in the New Yorker this week, Eykelboom, by Bard Watson, a writer I've been vaguely aware of but haven't read before and will watch for now. This story set in a small Southern town, perhaps in the 1980s or 90s?, on a suburban street on the edge of town and the edge of a swampy, mysterious forest eyed by developers and a great  place for kids in the neighborhood to explore, build forts, dig caves, etc. A new family comes to town (one of the tropes of story telling - a stranger comes to town ... ), the Eykelbooms, and they're more or less shunned by the residents - and the boys in the neighborhood never accept the kid their age - referred to only by his last name. There's something terribly wrong w/ this family, and we never know exactly what it is except that the fierce=looking father is a brutal disciplinarian who terrifies his son. The story is told essentially from the point of view of the gang of neighborhood boys - it's not a first-person plural narration, but it does feel like one, reminding me a little of Virgin Suicides - we see everything from a group POV without much sense of any of the individual boys in the group. The fairly simple plot builds up to a point where E. runs away from a feared punishment or beating by his odd father and he's never found again, which leads to much speculation over time as to whether he ran away from the family and started a new life or drowned in one of the sinkholes in the swampy area or was otherwise lost in and consumed by the dense and dangerous forest - fleeing from one danger into another. The story's about boyhood and cruelty - both by parents and kids - and the secret lives of others, very well narrated, believable, and kind of spooky.

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