Stuart and Stevie are animated and in good form and the band sounds excellent. On “Funny Little Frog” in particular they sound like they’re really enjoying themselves.
The session is only 25 minutes long, but they play 4 songs: “Funny Little Frog”, “Meat and Potatoes,” “Seymour Stein” and “Sukie in the Graveyard.” It’s worth a listen and it’s available here.
[READ: November 6, 2010] “What Separates Us from the Animals”
For some reason I always put off reading T.C. Boyle stories, even though I invariably enjoy them. And this was no exception. I saw that it was a fairly long story and I waited to read other things in this issue of Harper’s (Susan Faludi–where has she been all these years? and another NASCAR article–my second one in a few months after the article in McSweeney’s, which is pretty surprising since I’ve never seen more than a second of a race).
But back to Boyle. I loved the technique involved in this story. The narrator is a critical woman who makes claims towards being reasonable about her criticisms. And the thing is, her criticisms are entirely justified and yet her attitude makes you want to disagree with her. It’s a very cool conceit–an unlikable narrator whose opinions happened to be your own.
What she’s critical of is the new doctor who arrives on their island (I’m gathering it’s Nantucket). He was picked out of a couple of applicants to be the island’s only doctor, handling basic problems and issues (especially during the summer tourism season) but always with the understanding that serious problems would have to go to the mainland. In addition to his salary he would receive free lodging in an older, historic house.
She met him on the night of his arrival in order to get him set up in the house. She immediately invited him to dinner. He accepted for the following night and arrived at their own beautiful house in paint-spattered jeans and dirty work boots. He ate well and then fell asleep on their couch. Obviously, this did not set things off on the right foot. But what was worse was that this dirty demeanor spilled over into the rest of his life: his car has a flat tire for two months and worse, his examination office is filthy too (something I’m totally on board with criticizing). They’re also concerned with the state of the historic house, which no one has seen yet–what no invitations to cocktails?
Not much more happens in the story. The townsfolk (who I picture as a snotty version of the characters on The Gilmore Girls) try to decide what to do about the man and small steps are taken.
But really what happens is that the narrator, who we don’t much like, becomes sympathetic. In part, this is because of what we know to be true about what she says, but it’s also because of a revelation that comes near the story’s climax, which really humanizes her.
The end of the story is one of the nebulous endings (a fantastic scene that slowly builds anxiety), which completes the story but leaves the conclusion up the reader’s imagination. And that’s a fascinating and effective decision, even if you’d like just one more sentence to solidify future actions.