Monday, April 16, 2012

On "Suspension Bridge" by Dorene O’Brien (3212 words) ****

Reading a story is in part about suspending our disbelief--or at least that's the theory. We create a character, a setting, a place, a list of events. Sometimes, we mix in a few real-life facts. Sometimes we encounter things that are completely impossible. Why are we drawn to such things?

Perhaps, O'Brien seems to be saying, we are drawn to stories that same way we are drawn to people. We like the sense of mystery that is involved with getting to know someone, the possibility that this person might open to us vistas we have only dreamed about, might in fact make our dreams come true.

At a bar, in graduate school, while I was with a roommate, a really pretty girl began talking with us. Beats me why she would have begun flirting with me, but I could tell. She asked me what I was writing my thesis on, and she claimed to have read this person's work. I didn't believe it, for her ignorance on the subject was clear. But she was pretty. Did I play along? No. But my roommate did, creating a past and present for himself, for me too, that didn't exist. I didn't want, that evening, to play the role of artist. Some play that role in print; others, I guess, do it in the dating world. And some write about how those two worlds coincide, such as O'Brien, here at This.

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