http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201...January 9, 2017 Issue Fiction, Short Story: “You can’t share with others who your child truly is.”...
|Title||:||on the street where you live|
|Number of Pages||:||14 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
on the street where you live Reviews
One of the reasons I "splurged" for a brief subscription of the New Yorker (not really splurging, the 12-week subscription cost what I imagine may be less than the postage; the equivalent of that free fix of heroin that's supposed to get you hooked and forget to cancel) was to encourage me to read some interesting short fiction and magazine articles. And this story, found in my very first issue, really worked for me. And I really loved the art - the cover - that accompanied the story. (The other, pragmatic, reason was to have fun paper materials to show to students. Or so I tell myself.)This story definitely reminded me that I need to read more Li. It felt empathetic, well thought-out and beatifully phrased. So much fiction involving ASD, or neuroatypical, persons focuses on their ability to empathise, or alleged lack thereof. To see the experience from the other side felt very true to life and well imagined (or as much as I can tell, having some limited experience with parents of children with disabilities, which was the environment I was more or less raised in, since my mother is an activist for persons with disabilities).
It's one of my goals this year to increase the amount of short stories I read- The New Yorker is a good place to start. With no prior knowledge of Yiyun Li as an author, and as someone who usually wouldn't choose texts with themes of parenting and family, this story made me evaluate the complexities of motherhood, loneliness and empathy in fifteen minutes. Li's writing style is crisp and precise, painting the story of a woman called Becky who's disgusted by the state of ordinariness that distances herself from her autistic son, Jude. I use the word 'painting' purposefully, as the story begins in an art gallery; a man tells Becky that he doesn't like museums because he hates to share what he sees with others (ironic, as the reader is witnessing him sharing such views with a stranger). This sense of irony is evident throughout: Becky detests how she can't empathise with her son, refuses to call herself a mother and repeatedly states that she doesn't have the 'talent' to commit adultery or betrayal. Yet, despite her insistence that she lacks imagination, she claims that a character in Kurt Vonnegut’s story has plagiarised her thoughts, as if she had the capability to produce something artful, or something innovative. The reader witnesses her evolution from pretending to be something, to turning into something (even if that resolution is never quite concluded).The story's absolute pessimism towards empathy ironically made me empathise more with all the characters in the story: The very idea that the reader is hearing the thoughts of the mother and not the autistic child reflects the lack of empathy in modern perspective. We never meet Jude. In fact, the closest we get to meeting an autistic character is through the beautiful singing of another child, a song that Becky now knows he will never understand. Becky's fury when she hears him sing surprised and thrilled me. She recognises the difference between a love song and what the song is trying to express, and it's that difference which makes her son's life so difficult, so alone, because they can see through the songs' romanticisms and observe life's plainness. Jude does not have the means to express himself how he wishes, and even though Becky cannot change that, she is closer to understanding it, in a way making her as alone as Jude, witnessing and distancing herself from the 'normal' emotion seen by the story's other characters. This climaxes when her bag is stolen, just after the boy's performance. All she wants is her journal, featuring exciting descriptions of strangers that may help Jude's own empathy and motivate his interest in humanity. She doesn't care for her purse or phone (the thing that connects her with all other people), merely the object that connects her with her son. She even sees the thief later on that day, but loses all desire for those materialistic objects, ultimately becoming what Jude needs her to be. 'On the Street Where You Live' is a story that reflects how life is full of situations that demand resolutions, and not only does Becky's imagination expand as her experiences do, but I, too, felt that resolution of empathy. Side note: I did enjoy how the protagonist's self-definable trait was her ordinariness, matching the generic white girl name of 'Becky' (thanks Beyonce)
To be honest, from the start of the story until the middle of it, I was very bored by it. From the middle to the end I felt very connected to the story. It hit me and made me feel things I didn't want to feel. That may be because of personal things going on in my life. I understood the feelings of both sides. Of the child and of the mother. Again, I appreciate stories that make me have any type of feelings at the end of it and if it makes me think. This story does both and I hope others enjoy it just as much.
I really liked this, in the end. I don't want to say much because the story itself is only 14 pages long and to tell you the plot would be unfair. However, I will say that while I didn't necessarily like the main protagonist I felt that the prose was beautiful and the story was actually tied up in a really nice way. I often feel like short stories drop off at the end and leave a lot unsaid, a lot for the reader to decide but that didn't happen in this case and it was nice to have some closure.My second Yiyun Li short story and one I'm happy I read.
Having just read Yiyin Li's memoir written in the past two years when she was intermittently depressed, I find the disconnection and loneliness of the doomed characters in this story mirroring the author's own experience. Perhaps because of that, the story felt dragging a bit too long despite its pristine prose.
People stop and stare. They don’t bother me. For there’s nowhere else on earth that I would rather be.A woman struggles to cope with her son's autism.Of course, children like William and Jude were the loneliest people in the world. They had no one to rely on but the cocoon woven out of a wish to be unobtrusive, yet it was their parents’ job to rob them of that cocoon.An interesting look at this subject. I like that Becky has conflicted feelings; too often parents of special needs children are portrayed as saints. There are good days and bad days, but most days you just gotta get on with it.