Saturday, December 29, 2012

On "He Never Loved You" by Dave Newman (4686 words) ****

Newman's tale treads some familiar ground and and some familiar themes. Is it better to love someone too young for you--to go against convention--or settle for someone in order to fit convention? Really, of course, that's not the choice. The choice is to remain single because of convention or to marry because of convention. Newman sides, ultimately, it seems with going with one's heart rather than doing what people expect--or at least Newman's main character does.

Most stories have fairly familiar plots, however, so the real question is what an author does with it to make the tale unique, and it is here that Newman excels. Vanessa is a slightly overweight waitress who is a regular drinker at a bar down the street. She's been in college for twelve years, uncertain what she ultimately wants to become (this year, it's a social worker). Her interest in men is nill. She has a jerk of a stepfather and a loving mom who married not to be alone. And she has a budding interest in one of the men she goes to college with.

What makes the piece so great is the word choice. Take, for example, this detail. When Vanessa meets her love interest, Davey, the first thing she notices about him is his smell: cinnamon. Smell is not the first thing most writers point to. But then, Newman doesn't just stop there. It's not just cinnamon--he specifies the type: not gum but baking. "You smell like a cookie," becomes the pickup line, and as it turns out, a meaningful one.

Read the story here at Jenny Mag.

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