“In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried” originally appeared in TriQuarterly magazine in It was reprinted in Editors’ Choice: New American Stories. Annotations of “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried”. NC. Nicholas Cato. Updated 27 March Transcript. And fear Mirror Theory: Mirrors allow us to . “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried” is a short fiction story by author Amy Hempel. It was first published in TriQuarterly magazine in , reprinted in.
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In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried
The setting is the California coast presumably in the Los Angeles area. The narrator recalls her one and only hospital visit to her best friend, who was dying.
Why has jolsno taken her so long to make this visit? Because she is afraid. When she arrives, her friend is wearing a surgical mask, and so must she.
They talk about inconsequential things, bantering, but then her friend says that there “is a real and present need here. The narrator remembers how she and her friend played a word-game to ward off earthquakes. Now, however, it is not a question of “if” but only of “when.
The narrator knows it is meant for her, so that a, can keep vigil.
“In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried”
Both women take a nap, but on awakening, the narrator says, “I have to go home. This story is an intriguing, frank, and pithy rendering of complex reactions to the dying of loved ones.
The friends confront imminent death and loss in the tone that has characterized their relationship since college days, which seem not to be very far behind them. Al Jolson is buried in the cemetery where the dying girl will be buried; his blackface mask may symbolize the “show” that everyone, including the doctors, is putting on.
Underneath the banter, underneath the surgical masks, is grief laden with fear.
The dying friend, who has always been fearless, is afraid to die alone. The narrator must rescue herself by not staying to watch–or actively help–her friend die.
Indeed, the narrator views her friend as already dead “she was moved to the cemetery”so what is the hhe Another form of rescue, and expiation of guilt, is in the “retelling” of these events, to which the narration draws attention by switching back and forth from the past to the present tense.
Storytelling provides options for different behaviors, and provides explanations.
This is a work to which young adults can readily relate. Summary The setting is the California coast presumably in the Los Angeles area. Commentary This story is an intriguing, frank, and pithy rendering of complex reactions to the dying of loved ones.
Primary Source Reasons to Live. Place Published New York.