Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Incarnations of Burned Children

I just ran across this DFW story again online. I’ve read it between twenty and thirty times since I first saw it*, and it completely destroys me every single time. I don’t know if it’s because it stands out so much in the context of all of the other detached-narrator, impossible-to-convey-the-complexity-of-even-one-single-instance-of-what-it-means-to-be-alive-with-mere-words stories in Oblivion (it almost seems like a refutation of every other story in that book) or if it’s something as simple as I Have a Kid And So This Terrifies Me, but every time I read it I feel like someone has slammed me in the chest with an Underwood.

It’s manipulative as hell and screams “unreliable narrator”** but I can’t help being destroyed.
If you feel like being destroyed, here it is.

* in a Zadie Smith-edited collection, which she
named after this story, now that I think about it.
** as does the fact that it is by this particular author, although unlike this author’s work, it contains no math that I can recall, though it’s too hard (in the sense of “remorseless”, not “difficult”) a story to read twice in one day so I can’t be sure

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