Feed on

“Tell me things I won’t mind forgetting,” she said. “Make it useless stuff or skip it.”

I began. I told her insects fly through rain, missing every drop, never getting wet. I told her no one in America owned a tape recorder before Bing Crosby did. I told her the shape of the moon is like a banana — you see it looking full, you’re seeing it end-on. 

The camera made me self-conscious and I stopped. (29)

Amy Hemple’s “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” starts in medias res when the narrator is told by an originally unknown girl to talk about useless information. In medias res is when a story starts in the middle. In stories like this, readers have limited knowledge of information leading to the start of the written story. Readers do uncover some information as the story goes on, but it leaves many questions to be answered. For example, we find out in the story that the two girls are best friends and in the third paragraph, we find they are in an Intensive Care room. We are not told the name of the hospital until page 30 when the narrator says, “We call this place the Marcus Welby Hospital.” As readers, we are never told why the Best Friend is in the hospital, but we do find out at the very end of the story on page 39 that she was buried in a cemetery.  Not knowing why the girls where in the Intensive Care room leaves a lot of room for interpretation and imagination.

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