Follow by Email


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

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Art unfinished: a 3-part story by John L'Heureux

Short story in current New Yorker is by John L'Heureux, with the appealing title of Three Brief Moments in a Long Life. The 3 moments, even more briefly, are: first, author reflects on a time in childhood, in grade school, when he hated recess and would try to use the time to read, and there was a girl int he class who also hated recess and cried a lot; the girl left school, came back a year later, no longer crying, and unleashed a string of expletives that made all the kids, and the teacher, very uneasy; he prays that she will die and the next summer she dies of polio. Oops. Second moment: he's an older man (I'd judge about 50) with several novels to his credit, none of them widely known (much like L'H, from what I know of him - I believe he was a very respected prof at Stanford w/ a # of novels, one created some buzz in the 70s but for the most part he's not known beyond the circles of academe - like so many writers, sad to say) and he's interrupted in his writing by a man at the door seeking some work for pay; the man reminds him of Jesus. He gives him $5 - should he have done more? Third: He's now 80, taken to the hospital for emergency treatment of pneumonia, but actually dying from Parkinson's and wished that they could just let pneumonia take him. So, hm, what to make of these: in these brief and loosely connected episode L'H takes on the most profound issues of his life, any life: beliefs about god and the afterlife (if any), religious and moral obligations, the nature of fame and recognition, mortality, facing death with wit and confidence. The stories don't feel fully developed or integrated, but maybe that's fine - they feel "unfinished" like many other great works of art (some on view apparently in a cool exhibition now at the Met in NYC).

No comments:

Post a Comment