Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Asleep in the Lord."

Jeffrey Eugenides.
The New Yorker, (June 17 & 20, 2011), pp. 87-99.

Summary: The setting is Mother Theresa’s Hospital in Calcutta, India. Populated by derelicts and the dying. Mitchell is a volunteer. The story renders a portrait of the culture of modern India. And of the hospital. The reader experiences in vivid detail what it is like to help people with disgusting diseases and injuries. I’m not quite sure what the point of all this is. There is also the usual dirty language—“fuck” and “asshole,” etc.

Mitchell seems to be trying to find out his reason for living. In the end, he does seem to have decided his reason for living, because he leaves. Oh, and he has learned to pray by repeating a litany of: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Put it all together and I’m still guessing what it means, which, I suppose, is part of the author’s point.

Comment: Seems that all New Yorker stories are depressing. The characters are depressed, tired of life. The stories are not tragedies in the traditional sense, in which the victims have a vivid sense of living. They’re just stories with unhappy endings. I’ll include the New Yorker stories in my summaries if there is a reason for reading them. In this case, the cultures of the hospital and of modern India make the story worthwhile. However, I warn you that the first “shit” in future stories and I’ll probably stop reading. The language may be true to life, but I’m tired of hearing and reading it. It’s lost its value. I believe that literature should convey a sense of experience and should make the reader aware of the nature and value of life, even if the life is one of failure and unhappiness. RayS.

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