A WRITER'S WIT
We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
Born December 25, 1931
This story echoes one of the collection’s recurring themes: fatherless boys, or at least boys with absent or weak fathers:
“My own father was a kind of ghost who worked the second shift at Boeing, and he was either at work or in bed behind a closed door. On weekends he sat at our breakfast table in a T-shirt not much whiter than his skin and issued orders no one followed. Jed was in better shape than my father, whose doughboy figure had surrendered to the slow, tortured death of an assembly line” (66).
Nothing like the violent events in this story ever happened to me. I was more compelled to write about the geographical and climatological indicators: the river, cockleburs getting stuck in a boy’s bare feet, summers in which the temperature soared to over a hundred day after day, elm beetles shredding the leaves off trees. It seemed to be the right backdrop for something creepy and almost dangerous to happen. As with the story “Ghost Riders,” I’m too much of a coward to carry this narrative any farther than it goes. The boy emerges as a hero of his own story! Or at least an escapee.
This story first appeared in riverSedge, the literary magazine out of the University of Texas-Pan American at Edinburgh.
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