Drummond & Son by Charles D’Ambrosio, 2002
The magic trick:
Filling in backstory information in the final paragraphs instead of the more-expected spot earlier in the story
Charles D’Ambrosio plays coy with the marital situation of Mr. Drummond throughout the story. We know there was a separation. Some problems. We know the current reality we are absorbing throughout the narrative does not include the mother. OK. Vague. But perhaps that is all we need to know.
Seemingly out of nowhere, D’Ambrosio hits us with some backstory on the marriage damn near the very end of the text. Like in the final five paragraphs. It’s kind of crazy. It’s not a twist ending. No shocking reveal. It’s just the kind of stuff that fills in the gaps; the kind of thing you’d expect after the opening scene; something to connect the story’s early dots. The timing here is very interesting. Clearly, he wanted us to take in the story, Drummond and the relationship with his son, without this background information. But why add it at all then? What does it change? I’m not sure, actually. But I like it. It feels unique. It changed the way I organized my thoughts about these characters, I know that much. It changed the whole order of process. And that’s quite a trick on D’Ambrosio’s part.
“But Monday,” he said, “I’ll take the day off. How’d you like that? We’ll do something, just me and you.
“You’ll be twenty-five years old.
“Twenty-five years,” he said.
Almost by way of acknowledgement the boy nudged his glasses up the bridge of his nose.