Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Lingering Death – Silvia Tennenbaum


Silvia Tennenbaum March 10, 1928

This story started off a bit slow for me and as a consequence, I quickly lost interest. I then had to remind myself that what I was attempting to do was to educate myself in life through the reading of these stories and it was my duty to look and approach each of these stories with an open mind willing to accept their message.

I don’t think that the lesson fully appeared until I read the beauty of the last few lines of the story.

“Where the meadow had been, there hung only a white sheet. Amalie wanted to vomit; the words would not come. In the bathroom her head struck the edge of the basin. The pain was new, a blessing. A song of praise escaped from her mouth. Black paint welled over the sheet.”

I think this story is another fine example of Joyce Carol Oates using her position as the volume editor to provide the reader with a selection that they may find somewhat unsettling.

She feels that it is her duty in her writing to bring forth the subjects that many may shy away from, and this selection, she recruits Tennenbaum to help us face a cause of death that is pretty common, and as such, one that may take us.

–Cancer- a stroke?

Either of these could come at a moment...A stroke like an 18 wheeler smashing through our brain. Cancer sneaking through our cells-a hungry worm.

I don’t think I have an abnormal fascination with my own death, but it is something that I consider and contemplate quite a bit. I wonder when it will come and how it will happen. Quick and painless (preferred) or slow and filled with searing pain (uh...no please).

I also have it in my mind that I will live to a ripe old age. I would really enjoy that. A ripe old age with my mind intact. I am doing my best to prevent any degeneration in my mental facilities and am keeping close watch seeing that I may be predisposed to what “the old man” is suffering through.

Will I shun treatments like the character in this story? Live life? No on the first and yes on the second.

Score 8 out of 10.

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