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Dangerous Laughter

This story was unsettling and heartbreaking.  It has to be one of the strangest coming of age stories I have read.  It’s clear that the kids describe loving adventures, but they never go on them, these desires for adventures mirror the desperate desire they have to be different, to be anything but ordinary, and to stand out.  They talk about the “we” which really gives it a sense of community, and while specific individuals are noted, it isn’t necessary to know everyone, since the group functions as a character on it’s own.  They are in that lost, grey area of adolescence, and they are looking for anything that will give them some kind of rush, and a sense of emotional fulfillment or engagement.  They are able to band together, and share something with each other that goes beyond a game of scrabble.  They even talk about a kind of sexual connection that could go with it.  They feel like they have a secret that is dangerous, but in reality it is harmless.  In their search for something to make them happy, they skip the step  where they actually find happiness, and go straight to the intense release of emotion, and the abandonment of themselves that comes with laughter.  It’s almost like exercising extreme control over yourself, in order to cause a situation in which you would ordinarily have no control.  It’s interesting, the two are contradictory.  Then we get to the part of the story where laughter is exchanged for crying, the same sort of abandonment of self control (although, by these children it is again forced) that comes from laughing, but for the opposite reason.  Is this a recognition of the fact that you can’t force happiness?  They decide to, instead, change to sadness since that is what they have a better access to.

He does an unbelievable job of slowing down the story for his descriptions.  So much care is taken in each one, it just floors me, and shows what a really good, well thought out, slow description can do for a story, it’s tone, and our understanding of character.

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