‘The Annex’ by Amy Hempel

The Annex by Amy Hempel, 1997

The magic trick:

Showing the narrator’s pain, anger and insecurity through her increasingly negative and anxious narration

The protagonist in today’s story is haunted by the headstone for a baby in the cemetery across the street from her new house. She can’t escape it.

Nothing much happens from there, plot wise. It’s all about the mood. The narrator is nothing but negative. “Can you believe it?” she asks. “I bet we never get the high chair back,” she predicts.

It seems simple, but you really don’t see too many stories told by totally negative narrators. website. So what’s her deal? Why is she getting increasing defeatist? Who is she so angry about? What’s her argument and who exactly is she trying to convince?

I don’t have the answers, but I know it’s enough to unnerve the reader. And that’s quite a trick on Hempel’s part. 

The selection:

You see what it is? It is a two-car garage with a loft where we haven’t had time yet to make the big effort to clean out the crap from the previous owners, why didn’t they clean out their own crap, is what I want to know. The oversized stuffed animals, the rotten throw pillows, the mildewed best-sellers from other summers, everything cheap and ruined and left behind.

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