Monday, August 26, 2013

Reader's Diary #1053- Don Aker: Everything Gets Dead

Don Aker's "Everything Gets Dead" is, as the title would suggest, not a happy romp in the park. It tells of a man who finds himself telling his daughter (whom he has for his weekend visitation rights), the sad fact of life: it ends. Much to his dismay, the fates are about to provide them with a more graphic example. (And it is set in a park.)

It's finely detailed and the characters are well-defined, but I am perplexed somewhat by the opening paragraph. (That's not a complaint, by the way.) It begins with the dad— it's not revealed that he's a dad at this point— ogling a woman as she runs around a track.

Given the rest of the story, I'm not sure how it fits in. I imagine it would probably make some readers uncomfortable, and it's fair to say that this is clearly not meant to be a comfortable story, but the themes of death and father/daughter bonding aren't exactly encapsulated by the running woman. Well, maybe it might be relevant to father/daughter relationship, maybe it's Aker's way of saying that males have complicated and diverse relationships with females. Or maybe it's to contrast with the final image (I won't spoil it, but it's far less of a male stereotype). Another idea? As he recounts the death of his previous marriage, the way he's clearly been fantasizing about the runner could be suggestive of hope in new beginnings. Here's a big one: it's about our true nature, we have humanistic facades of superiority with our philosophies and dynamic interpersonal interactions but underneath all we're all just animals with sexual urges and mortal biology. (Whew, I think I ruptured something.) I don't know, but it's certainly intriguing in the way that it distracts from the overall plot. I'd love to hear your theories!

(Did you review a story for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments!)

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