Feed on

I began reading the stories for this week thinking that I would end up writing a post about “The Bar of Our Recent Unhappiness”, but then, as I read the Bergman story, I began to notice things. When the narrator describes her coworkers at the Lemur Center, she uses just enough detail so that it sounds like she’s talking about real people. It would have been easy for Bergman to write just that they are “people who donate to food banks… bake casseroles for sick coworkers. People whose husbands work jobs they love” (104). That sounds like a real person speaking. That sounds like something I might say. But Bergman includes in the description that they “adopt incontinent Australian shepherds with epilepsy” and that their husbands’ jobs include “rewilding toxic meadows” (104). These details not only sound like something a real person would mention, especially someone who instinctively compares herself to these people, but they also sound like the details of real lives. Real people don’t adopt perfect dogs, or dogs that are incontinent and epileptic and blind and only have three legs.

The narrator’s mention of her father in connection with her pregnancy highlights the so-far absence of a husband/a father for her daughter. The sentence “my father also taught me to love movies” (104) begins the thread of movie references that the narrator uses to describe her husband, the lemurs, and herself getting older. Bergman, however, doesn’t actually rely on these references to describe whatever the narrator is describing. She makes sure to give us a few adjectives beforehand in case we’ve never seen the movie that the narrator then mentions. Bergman uses the movie references to subtly reinforce the idea that we’re in the narrator’s head.

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