I loved Funeral when it came out and I’m still quite fond of it. The Times New Viking cover is pretty faithful to the original (the vocals are really close, in fact). But the cover sounds like it was recorded on a transistor radio. The original isn’t a bass-thumping heavy song, but the cover is so tinny and fragile, it seems to get lost in itself. It also sounds something like a demo. Neither of these are bad in and of itself, but the final version is so full, that this doesn’t really add anything new to the song.
But it did get me to listen to the original again, so that’s good.
[READ: May 6, 2012] “Reunion”
I have just finished Grantland #2 and I wanted to mention this story alone because for the most part the “magazine” (or whatever it is) doesn’t have fiction in it.
I was a little concerned when it first started that it was going to be very baseball-heavy, because the main character and the friend he reconnects with were pitcher and catcher when they were younger. But I was pleased that the story used their baseball past as a framework to establish their closeness and synchronicity, not as the end of the story itself.
It was also funny to read a story in which people get caught up via Facebook. It may be the first fiction I’ve read where such an emphasis is placed on Facebook as a reuniting medium—with the protagonist being unsure about it at first and then deciding it was a pretty cool thing (very true for many of us). Indeed, the quote “How many high school reunions had Facebook ruined…” is quite apt.
The story zooms back to the childhood that the two boys spent together—a really good encapsulation of inseparable friends who are suddenly separated. Allan spent a lot of time at Oliver’s house because his mom was divorced, was something of a drinker and always had men around. Allan often slept over, even on school nights, and it was clear that the Oliver family (Oliver is his last name) felt like they’d sort of adopted him.
They hardly ever fought, but when they did, Allan displayed a crazy temper. In fact, he was kind of a loose cannon in many ways—and here the baseball examples are really good, showing how he would get distracted during the game, but still manage to be an amazing pitcher (except for the game when he cried on the mound clearly upset at something that was going on at home).
Oliver can remember only one incident that was awkward for them. A sleepover that got too close. I worried this was going to go into a weird homophobic rant, but it doesn’t, it was more that they were so young, that the behavior was simply too alien to Oliver to understand…and nothing really happened, anyway. And then, one day his mother up and moved across the country, taking Allan with her.
It is established by Allan’s Facebook page that he is not like most other Facebookers (no picture or updates, but lots of friends). And he doesn’t write back to Oliver despite the number of contact attempts. And then finally Allan says he;s going to be in town, so they should get together.
But when they finally get together again after all those year, the ending was a bit of a let down. Not the actual reason for the get together (that was right on), but the way the story ends. Most of the examples of Allan’s weirdness do not pay off in any way. There’s no real follow-through with what happened earlier. The truth about their reunion is very well done—the awkwardness, the desire to throw the ball, and as I said, even the ultimate reason that Allan has come back is completely believable. But the earlier stuff isn’t resolved in a satisfying way—it seems more like an opportunity to show off quirky behavior without any real payoff. And the final line (no spoiler) “Allan Anson was not even the same person anymore” is a terrible final line. I mean, the whole final section demonstrates that–you’ve already shown us that, don’t tell us as well. It made the ending pretty weak, which is a shame because the beginning and middle were really strong and interesting, even for a story about baseball.