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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

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Impressive and sorrowful story in current New Yorker - Fable

Really impressive, sad, unconventional, quirky story, Fable, by Charles Yu, in current New Yorker, almost a "real-time" story in that the entire narrative takes place during a single therapy session, 50 minutes usually, and I think that's about the time it would take you to read it (aloud) - female therapist about whom we know nothing, male patient, and though we don't know his presenting diagnosis, he seems anxious and depressed, therapist asks him to describe his life as if it were a fable and, with some hostile resistance, he gives her a one-sentence "Once upon a time" about a man who realizes his life has come to nothing. She draws him out a bit, and he ventures onto a longer, and then an even longer, fable-like account of his life (Once there was a man who was a lawyer ... ) with several painful, awkward pauses and interruption - and in the course of this narration we do get an entire picture of a life, a lonely man with low self-esteem, an awkward marriage, birth of a child who they learn has severe disabilities, the way in which the child puts stress on the marriage, and, as he grows, isolates them from their peers and friends - probably very accurate, and painful in the extreme. I think it's rare that a short story can tell a whole life story - usually there's too much summary - but this story seems to have just the right amount of credible detail, the suffering narrator comes alive with all his pain and loneliness, and it doesn't feel as if this should really be a novel - it's just the right amount of pathos as it is. I don't know anything else about Yu but will watch for more work by him.

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