“In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried” originally appeared in TriQuarterly magazine in It was reprinted in Editors’ Choice: New American Stories. Annotations of “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried”. NC. Nicholas Cato. Updated 27 March Transcript. And fear Mirror Theory: Mirrors allow us to . “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried” is a short fiction story by author Amy Hempel. It was first published in TriQuarterly magazine in , reprinted in.

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The substitution here of trivia for what is real renders the story the ideal minimalist marriage of form and content: As with the useless things that she once told her friend, she makes no distinction between what is true and what is false, because in a postmodern philosophy one might say that postmodernism is actually a lack of any philosophy there is no difference and it does not matter.

Robert Peltier is an English instructor at Trinity College and has published works of both fiction and nonfiction. Why has it taken her so long to make this visit? There are other misses here and there, gags that fall molson. In the denial stage, the patient refuses to recognize reality and acts as if the disease does not exist.

In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried |

Just as the mother chimp continues to sign to her dead baby, the narrator continues her reliance on trivia after the friend dies. And who is there that can say that I did not?

Hempel credits Lish with having had a special influence on her work. Notice how nervous the narrator gets when she realizes that there is a camera focused on her and her friend.

The process of writing this story and dedicating it to her deceased friend can be said to be a catharsis for the author. And that when they pressed her, she said she was sorry, that it was really the project director.


Black humor wheee comedy of a situational or conversational nature that concentrates on morose.

She thinks of a story told to her by a friend who used to work in a mortuary. Some of the one-page pieces in Reasons to Live are so truncated and incomplete they are interesting only as snapshots. The narrator in this story has not been able to bring herself to visit her best friend in the hospital for two months; her fear has been stronger than her sense of decency.

I told her insects fly through rain, missing every drop, never getting wet. Another form of rescue, and expiation of guilt, is in the “retelling” of these events, to which the narration draws attention by switching back and forth from the past to the present tense. In a black comedy, an author will frequently make fun of things of a serious nature, such as illness, death, or disease.

In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried by Amy Hempel | Short Story Recommendation

At times the voice telling this story seems to move into a narrative technique known as stream-of consciousness—the literary attempt to reproduce the pattern of a mind in unchecked thought, simultaneously moving in multiple levels of awareness, issuing an uninterrupted flow of sensations, thoughts, memories, associations, and reflections. For her I would always have something else. During a time of extreme sadness or danger, people will often tell jokes and talk about trivial things.

The danger that springs from this kind of thinking is obvious in this story and, for that matter, in much of the world it reflects. A parable thw a story that teaches a lesson.

“In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried”

Some of them seem merely to be vehicles designed to transport us to the oracular punchline, but fail to lend it resonance along the way. New story recommendations from this week.


This pathetic weakness hwere kept her from comforting a person who is dying, a person who is supposedly her closest friend. That when they asked her who did it on the desk, she signed back the name of the janitor.

Because she is afraid. These stories, more than half of which have never been published before, are conspicuously contemporary—both the abbreviated one-page sketches and the more extended pieces of five or six; feeling is always contained, never explicit.

This is a work to which young adults can readily relate. Commentary This story is an intriguing, frank, and pithy rendering of complex reactions to the dying of loved ones.

Igoni Barrett, Belle Boggs, A. In the final stage of acceptance, the patient may still be fearful and angry but is now prepared to the with peace and dignity.

A debate over the merits of minimalism eventually ensued, which, using the words of Saltzman, can be framed thus: She has stayed away from her friend because she is afraid that looking at a reality she normally pretends does not exist will drag her into the abyss.

Every now and then the first person narrator makes a comment that sounds more like a reflection from an author looking in on the story than the thoughts of a character looking out. The narrator knows it is meant for her, so that she can keep vigil. Hempel is the author of two collections of short stories: