Listener's Diary #1- Vincent Lam: A Long Migration
I came across the Authors Aloud website while searching for a piece of flash fiction from John Gould. His reading of "Crunch" is available there. However, since Authors Aloud was new to me, I wanted to check out what else they had to offer and I came across Vincent Lam, who I'd been wanted to read for some time (I skipped the Gould story this time around since I already read it in Kilter-- a great collection of flash fiction, I might add.)
One problem with Authors Aloud, however, is the lack of info on the piece being read. They have author bios and the title of the book from which the reading is taken. But, in the case of the short story collections, it's unclear whether it's an excerpt from a story or the whole thing. This wouldn't be a problem except that sometimes, let's face it, authors like ambiguous endings. So, instead of listening to Lam's reading at Authors Aloud, I followed a link to his own website where he'd posted media clips, including excerpts from the CBC radio program "Under The Covers." In March of 2006, Under The Covers featured readings from Lam's short story collection, Bloodletting and Other Miraculous Cures. I finally chose to listen to two excerpts from the short story "The Long Migration," still not knowing if the two pieces comprised a whole or not, but too weary of sliding under another suffocating quilt of ye olde Internette.
At the end of the story... wait, I'm not sure if it was the end or not, the ending was a bit ambiguous... I appreciated the tale's use of blood imagery. Lam was able to connect blood's physiological functions to genealogy connotations to the soul as only a doctor/writer could. Having the story told from a med student/ grandson point of view was a wise move-- not only because of a familiarity of subject matter, but also because it added a perspective that only the double identity could have: medicine with family bias, or vice versa. It made the blood explorations all the more plausible and effortless.
Still, I'm not sure if I got the whole story. Take that literally and figuratively. It does sort of chop short, leading me to think there may be a conclusion in the book itself. But as the story progressed time became more of an issue. Perhaps there was some sort of lesson intended-- should I live in the now and not worry about what happens to the grandfather? Is time such a continuum that I'm not suppose to see an ending as relevant? Argghh. Was there more in the book? I can't over analyze until I find out for sure...
To the library!