Friday, April 10, 2009

On "Gator Bait" by Georgia Garrett (4953 words) ***

Some stories hit you with a voice straight out, a strong one, that no matter what happens is going to make you read on and on. You just want to listen. You don't care too much what happens, and sometimes not much does. I think of Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground and of Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, both very good books. I also think of Katherine Dunn's Truck, a book that is not so good but that had such a powerful first ten pages I read the whole thing with a sense of growing disappointment. Garrett's story won't disappoint, but it's a bit different than perhaps I envisioned from those opening paragraphs. It becomes the kind of story one doesn't see much anymore, a story with a sense of character and morals, about a hero who really is heroic, not for shooting up bad guys or something you'd see in some vacuous adventure film but for simply living a strong life--and for imparting it to his son. That the son feels he hasn't lived up to those ideals may be one reason I so rarely see stories of such idealism anymore--in an age of cynicism, it's hard to be anything but cyncical. Read the story here at Blackbird.

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