Tag Archives: story

Sneak preview: "Hear the Enemy, My Daughter" from The Law & the Heart

The Heart and the Law by Kenneth SchneyerThis is one of thirteen stories in Kenneth Schneyer’s new collection The Law & the Heart. Emotionally and ethically complex, it gives us the perfect opportunity to show you why we’re so excited about this book!

Hear the Enemy, My Daughter
by Kenneth Schneyer

Everything about Kesi reminds me of her father. Her hair is crinklier than mine, because Jabari’s was. Her skin is a darker shade of brown than mine, because Jabari’s was. Her chin juts out absurdly for such a little face, because Jabari’s did. She even smells like him. Every sight of her is like a kick in my stomach.

Kesi has stopped wondering where Jabari has gone. For the first two or three months, she asked many times a day, “Mzazi, where Baba?” She was past such baby-talk; it was a sign of her distress that she regressed, lost her verbs. I was honest with her, or I tried to be. You can say, “Baba has died. Baba was very brave, he was fighting to protect Kesi and Mzazi, he was fighting to protect everyone.” But how much of that will a three-year-old understand? All she knew was that her father was gone. I did not even tell her that he had gone to a better place, that he was happy — what would be the point, even if I believed it? Did she care whether he was happy, if it kept him away forever?

Nor did I allow the other voice to speak, the voice that said, “I should have been fighting next to Jabari; I could have saved Jabari. If you had not been born, Jabari would still be here.”

Now she is four and does not mention him at all. She remembers him; when I point to his picture, she tells me who Jabari is. But she does not begin conversation about him. She does not ask when he will return. She does not ask what it means to die. Continue reading Sneak preview: "Hear the Enemy, My Daughter" from The Law & the Heart

Inauguration Weekend: Ritual and Renewal

Here’s a thought that first occurred to me on the third weekend of January four years ago, and that feels all the truer to me now:

I love that presidential inaugurations now take place the day after MLK Day. Not only does it make for a lovely four-day weekend for some schools, but we have created a secular ritual of loss and rebirth that satisfies my mythically-oriented but ultimately agnostic soul.

Think about it: every third Monday of January, we here in the US celebrate the life of man who called to the better angels of our nature, and who died in the struggle to get our nation to live out its creed—that all men are created equal. Every Martin Luther King Day, I listen to King’s speeches—the “I have a dream” behemoth, the “I have seen the Promised Land; I may not get there with you” Pisgah sight—and they fill me with both great hope and a great sense of loss. I cry. Every damned time. It’s pathetic. Only it’s not.

Then, every fourth year, on the third Tuesday in January, we indulge in the audacity of our on-going revolution, an exercise that embraces the idea that not only are we all one nation together (whatever our differences), but that we can, will, and do work continuously to make ours a more perfect union. Continue reading Inauguration Weekend: Ritual and Renewal

Crazy Is as Crazy Does – Madness and Narrative

Silver Lining Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

My family watched Silver Linings Playbook last night. We all really enjoyed the dark romantic comedy, but I couldn’t shake some misgivings.

Talking afterward with my eldest daughter (who’s just finished taking a college Intro to Psychology class), I realized that part of the discomfort I was feeling had to do with the portrayal of the mental and emotional states of the two main characters, Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). As Sasha pointed out, the two actors give fine, nuanced performances, but really, even given what little I know, their portrayals of two characters struggling with heavy-duty psychological issues had very little to do with clinical psychology and a lot to do with storytelling convention and narrative design. As we talked about it, I had this epiphany: in any story, madness (like magic, murder, etc.) is first and foremost a literary trope rather than an expression of objective psychological reality. Continue reading Crazy Is as Crazy Does – Madness and Narrative