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There are a lot of interesting things happening in Rivecca’s stories. I have a hard time differentiating them from one another, but she writes in a way that informs the reader unlike nearly any other stories I’ve ever read. This story is particularly interesting as it immediately introduces the story in second person, however, slowly progresses to a weird combination of both second and first person. I am not a huge fan of her long convoluted sentences and sometimes out-there word choice. I do, however, appreciate her extensive use of adjectives and other stylistic choices made throughout the story.

The story first gave me the impression that it was written as a letter. It seems like a logical assumption given the first sentence, “twenty-seven years ago, when you were a surgical intern at Bingham Medical Center in Paw Paw, Michigan, you saved my father’s life.” It appears that the author is writing for the purpose of thanking, or otherwise appreciating the “you”‘s good deed. Although, it quickly morphs into a confusing stretch of reflection that doesn’t necesarily come to an appropriate conclusion. The strange combination of voices the narrator uses leaves me feeling disconnected from the story as a whole. I never really understand whether or not the author loves her father or not, we never truly find out exactly what her “pain” is. I feel that this is because she began writing the story in second person and thus, never fully develops the story under the assumption that “you” is already knowledgable of it. This is confusing in and of itself though, as the author clearly states that “you” in fact doesn’t know anything about her father’s background story. All and all, the point of view of the story is interesting and is very obviously used intentionally to tell the story in a different way, however, I feel as though Rivecca did not use it to the best of her ability in this particular story.

Another thing that was severely frustrating about the way this story was written were the long sentences and unconventional use of language. It may or may not just be me, but paragraph long sentences with words that must be looked up used every other line, make me feel lost and confused. My mind cannot focus on a sentence for that long. I found it necessary to be constantly removing myself from the story and beginning again all lengthy ideas. Not to mention removing myself to look up a word. I have always been a very active reader and it was difficult for me to understand where the story was coming from when I was so easily disconnected from the text. I have been told many times in my life that “people don’t actually talk like that,” and someone should tell Suzanne Rivecca. Granted, on page 187 the narrator uses a comment made by her husband to confront the way she speaks, “It’s the way you use words. You both pick your words like you’re stripping dead buds off a houseplant, but with this strange exhilaration. This fastidious, fussy exhilaration.” Ok, so she confronts a reason that may explain why she uses weird words and long sentences, however, to do so she has the husband say something equally as weird and lengthy. Who would ever say “this fastidious, fussy exhilaration.”??!!! First of all, that’s not even a real sentence, second of all it barely even makes sense in context.

There are plenty of stylistic reasons to love this story. I really appreciate her unforgiving use of adjectives. Nearly every idea has a description attached to it and this makes everything feel a lot more imaginable (especially in contrast with the disconnect issue). For example, in the last paragraph on page 189 one sentence includes, “dumb entreaty,” “consumptive melancholy,” “affable sweetness,” and “smart sincerity,” nearly all lined up with one another. It is quite poetic really, to be so descriptive. I just wish it translated into emotions. I don’t want to get lost in words. I also love her use of quotation marks at the bottom of page 183, “The ‘abuse’ was so ridiculous…” It really helps portray the idea that the narrator has no idea what really was incorrect about her relationship with her father, yet that something really was unconventional, and incorrect with the way he treated her and her sister.

It is plain to see that I have many issues with the structure of this story. I do not believe it. I do not know why I should even want to believe it, and I feel like she purposely removed the reader to far away from the issues at hand. I’m not even quite sure there was a specific issue. The idea itself was creative and, in places, realistically portrayed, but in the grand scheme of things, the story fails to be effective.

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