The story is enough.

The story is enough.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"The Weir" by Mark Haddon

This story can be found in the November 16, 2015 issue of The New Yorker.  

This review can also be seen at The Mookse and the Gripes.

First Line: "He pops the catch and lifts the rusty boot."

Last Line: "And the last few minutes may be horrible, but that's O.K., it really is, because nothing is lost and the river will keep on flowing and there will be dandelions in sporing and the buzzard will circle above the wasteland."

I love The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.  I found it to be powerful and moving and thought-provoking.  The exploration into human emotion and the sensation of such was touching and well-portrayed.

I am not as impressed with "The Weir".  It is another story with great potential to be tender and compassionate, honest and vulnerable.  A man whose wife has left him (he gets the car with the rust...) and his son has abandoned them both, takes his dogs for their daily romp in the fields on the banks of the Thames.  Battered tennis balls and racket show us that he is not faring as well he thinks he is.

Then Ian spots a woman, on the weir, behaving strangely in a spot that can only mean thing - she plans to jump.  After this extended scene, the emotive drive behind the story seems to loss a little "umph". 

The tale moves into a direction of life's complexities, yet trying to show continuities of life bring hope...  I was waiting for something, but I am not sure what that something was.  The ending was wrapped up, but rather messy and poignant, as in life.  But I did not walked away moved, or pondering.  There is no residue left in this piece for me.

There were lines of feeling and imagery to love: "Enough blue to male a pair of sailor's trousers."
"The sour self-pity in her voice, daring him to reach out and have his hand slapped away."
" if she were a superhero and this was her power."
"...he's like a lobster in a warming pot, claws scrabbling at the metal rim."
"She listens better than anyone he knows.  Or maybe it's just that she doesn't interrupt.  And maybe that's enough."

"The Weir" doesn't feel real to me, but it seems it should.  Instead, it seems like I am being told a made-up story...  and while I have something akin to pity for Ian, I do not empathy for him.  I see him too far ahead in the distance to even try to connect with him.

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  1. Yes, totally agree! I was really disappointed by "The Weir." I thought that some of the descriptions were downright tired.

  2. "Tired"... that is a great way to describe it!

    1. Oh, really? It's easy to dismiss a great, brilliant and powerful story from some remote and jaded distance. Try writing something engaging or illuminating yourselves. Tired? Do you mean that the character was a divorced, middle age man or that the story was tired? The story lacked depth, energy and heart? I don't think so. Perhaps you are tired and your cynical agreer as well.

    2. Unknown,
      Thanks so much for stopping by! It seems that you enjoyed this story - a lot. And I am glad - that's one of the great things about art... different stories reach each of us in different ways.