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Monday, February 22, 2016

Reader's Diary #1263- Helen Phillips: The Knowers


Lately I've been deep sighing without realizing it. Someone will ask what's wrong. Wrong? Yes, why the big sigh?

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Helen Phillips' "The Knowers" revolves around that familiar "what if" question: What if you could know the date of your own death? Would you want to know? What would you do with that information?

I would want to know. Incidentally, I asked a Ouija board that question once upon a time and while I don't recall the answer, I know I've outlived it by far. I think it was around 29 years of age. Considering some of the choices I was making at the time, 29 would have seemed about right.

 One of the most interesting details in "The Knowers" is birthdays being usurped by deathdays. Every year, on April 17th, the narrator "celebrates" another year being alive, knowing that on one particular April 17th, years from now, she will cease to exist.

It's a morbid story. And in case the tone of this post hasn't tipped you off, depressing. I did find it tragically hilarious, however, that upon the date in question, the narrator's husband will only talk in solemnly profound sentences just in case it's the last thing his wife hears. She tells him to knock it off.

Beautifully written. One of the best things I've read, and will read, this year.

2 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

What an absolutely splendid story. I will be thinking of this for a very long time.
Thank you!

John Mutford said...

Yeah, it lingers doesn't it? I'm finding it hard to shake!