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I really enjoyed reading “The Trip Back” and “Sweet Talk” together. I noticed that they both have two similar elements.

Both include a car trip as a device for the narrator to figure something out. The journey is a road to self-discovery, to the narrators learning something about themselves and finding their destination. On long car rides, the character has to think, observe the outside world, and pick a destination.  I was left wondering why I’ve never used a traveling device before since it’s so easy to have a billboard, a hanging car, motels, music, etc. as prompts so that the reader can learn more about the character.

Both also include some combination of love and pain, which are both necessary to the human condition. But the presentation in these stories was what really struck me. In “Sweet Talk,” the narrator thought her and Sam loved each other more when they were angry and fighting. In “The Trip Back,” the narrator comes to the conclusion that maybe he would be OK with forgetting his wife and all that he loved, if he could remember things like the South China Sea.

These concepts are general and everyone can relate to them, but the unbearable sadness really hit me and they were stories I could not stop reading.

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