In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried Summary. Amy Hempel The story ends with the friend being buried in Los Angeles, in a well-known cemetery. “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. 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, mi For the short story reader. Updated.

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She also names other contemporary short story writers such as Mary Robison and Raymond Carver as having affected her style. Do insects get wet?

The narrator alludes to the irony in this, but seems incapable of understanding it. Most of the stories in Reasons to Live open after a crisis to ecmetery the narrator standing, shell-shocked, amidst the rubble of her life. The danger manifests cemeterry as a detachment from the world of human connection. Minimalism has its uses, and can achieve surprisingly varied effects: Like the mother chimp who is trained to sign, the narrator and her friend train themselves to speak only in trivia—like signing, an alternate and artificial form jolsn language—to speak only about things that do not matter.

The truth of this trivia is not important because truth is merely an irrelevant abstraction in the face of death. The only fear that she admits to having is a fear of flying. Born December 14,in Chicago, Illinois, Amy Hempel moved to San Francisco as a teenager and attended several California colleges during an academic jolsoh that saw frequent interruptions. Deciding to become a writer, she settled in New Cemeteyr City and attended Columbia University where her creative writing instructor was Gordon Lish, a noted novelist, short story writer, and editor.

Though the narrator seems aware of her fear of death, her fear prevents her from discussing the topic openly. Posted by nr at 8: Summary The setting is the California coast presumably in the Los Angeles area. And that when they pressed her, she said she was sorry, that it was really the project director.

“In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried”

Feeling cemetsry, the narrator ponders her reasons for waiting two months to come visit. The narrator reminisces specific moments of their friendship, each revealing something more about the narrator’s fears and their relationship. It was trained on us from a ceiling mount—the kind of camera banks use to photograph robbers.


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A parable is a story that teaches a lesson. I told her insects fly through rain, missing every drop, never getting wet. Why not keep it light? She rattles off more trivia for her friend and they watch a movie together lying side by side while eating ice cream. But, in fact, she does come back. She wants my life.

Nevertheless, like the earthquake the two roommates hoped to cemetrey but were unable to prevent, the woman is.

The stories are less successful when we have to piece together the events from driblets and hints. Robert Peltier is an English instructor jolsoj Trinity College and has published works of both fiction and nonfiction. Their communication remains superficial; it would be too dangerous otherwise. It causes her to stop talking even though there is no microphone to nempel up what she is holson.

This psychological stage, which is usually brief, is followed by the first true recognition of reality, and the patient then enters the stage of grief or depression, mourning the loss of his or her own life. Al Jolson is buried in the cemetery where the dying girl will be buried; his blackface mask may symbolize the “show” that everyone, including the doctors, is putting on.

Originally published in TriQuarterly.

Primary Source Reasons to Live. The friend is interested in hearing about the first chimp that was trained to talk until the narrator warns her that the outcome is sad, at which point the friend commands her to stop the story.

Because she is afraid. This pathetic weakness has kept her from comforting a person who is dying, a person who is supposedly her closest burked. The friend throws a fit upon realizing the narrator is leaving, yanking off her protective mask molson running out of the room. Limbo seems like the only honest place to be in these stories.

But eventually she does leave without any intention of coming back. I was supposed to offer something. And who is there that can bured I did not?

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. It is not so much that lies and truths are mixed in our lives, but that there are no real truths at all.


Read a Short: In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried by Amy Hempel

This story was recommended by Manjushree Thapa. The other stories, too. Despairing postmodernism rears up in this story and answers: But the stories have, at least for the moment, done their dirty job: Didion uses the agglomeration of concrete details to much the same end, but manages to infuse the facts themselves with a simultaneous wonder and irony, to convince the reader that everything she describes, from a hydraulic power plant to a waiter in Zipaquira, Colombia, is a singular phenomenon with its own body of lore.

The implication is that the fearful narrator took too long coming to the side of her dying friend and, once there, will not stay until the end. In this story, the narrator uses black humor in an effort to ease her fear of death.

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

At times the voice telling this story seems to move into a narrative technique known as stream-of consciousness—the guried 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. The dying friend, who has always been fearless, is afraid to die alone.

In a black comedy, an author will frequently make fun of things of a serious nature, such as illness, death, or disease.