Three Short Moments In A Long Life by John L’Heureux, 2016
The magic trick:
Mixing in an odd sense of surrealism in what is otherwise a very realistic story
Yikes, there’s a lot of trickery going on here. We have the premise indicated by the title of assessing a life through three anecdotes. We have the sense of humor throughout that seems to think it’s far funnier than it actually is (at least to my tastes). We have the fairly overwrought (again, to my tastes) notions of guilt and Christianity. All of it is underscored – and undone – by a suffocating narcissism. There is a smugness to this story that puts me off.
The trickery that works for me is the subtle sense of the bizarre that lingers above each of the three story sections. It’s certainly not out and out magical realism. But there is a feeling that things aren’t being completely presented as reality – what with the disappearing girl, the death wish that comes true and the “knock-knock-who’s there?” appearance of Jesus. It’s a strange mix, that’s for sure. And that’s quite a trick on L’Heureux’s part.
I was working on my novel—don’t even ask—when I heard the doorbell ring. My wife was out teaching school, so I had to answer it myself. I got up from my computer, went downstairs slowly, because I’d turned my ankle a few days earlier, and just as I got to the door I tripped on the new carpet and heard myself saying, “Jesus Christ!” I opened the door and it was him.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey,” I said.
I recognized him immediately from his pictures. He had long blond hair and those eyes that follow you around the room.
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