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She was a sand-colored bitch with a whorled, nubby stomach.”

McCracken does an incredible job meeting lyricism with profanity. The profanity is not overdone and does not pose risk of disrupting the character’s identity. Jake, an older man possessing rough edges and an apparent lack of happiness, is easily suited by profane dialect. The circumstances surrounding his claim as to becoming a regular at the bar, that his wife suffered a head injury, directly resonates with his deep, emotional complex. I think it’s beautiful and sad how Jake ceased to get a haircut following her accident since his wife was responsible for cutting his hair on their first date and every time thereafter. Besides the compelling emotional context to the story, I also really liked McCracken’s decision to implement second person point of view into the text. It made me feel as though Jake was talking directly to me about his wife and the hope he continues to cling to. Second person point of view made everything more personal, and I found that it contributed to my establishment of a relationship with the character. I also thought the transitions between past and present were very smooth; his recall of memories told through descriptive imagery and eloquent passage. My favorite image, particularly, when he comments on the beauty of his wife’s hair in her hospital room, demonstrates McCracken’s ability to reflect on the past without leaving present tense. Jake says, “Her hair was long now, too, so beautiful it embarrassed me. When I first knew her, her hair was naturally red and artificially curly. I suppose I told her I loved it curly. The color went out of it eventually…Now it had grown free from the perms, steel gray, with just a hint of old red,” not only showing a distinct break between present and past, but also demonstrating patience; it spans the detail over time, not abruptly. That is one of the things I struggle with while writing, but the periods of reflection in this story are clearly defined and beautiful written. I think I can learn a thing or two from McCracken about distinguishing past and present fluidly and coherently.

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