Saturday, December 08, 2007

The New Yorker: "The Visitor" by Marisa Silver

Candy is a nurse’s aide in a V.A. hospital and is taking care of badly wounded soldier she thinks of as El Lobo. At the same time she is dealing at home with her grandmother, the two women who together have had to face struggling with Sylvie, Candy’s mother, through her addictions and death. Candy is frustrated with El Lobo because he does not speak, but she also senses his anger and hatred. The ending of the story takes place in the apartment Candy shares with her grandmother. There has been a blackout and the grandmother cannot finish the dress she has been sewing. As a story, there isn’t much about this piece that works. The two threads – in the hospital and in the apartment – do have some linkages, but they aren’t tied together in any cohesive way, and the story doesn’t end, it just stops. But I suspect that’s because this isn’t really a story and once again The New Yorker is passing off an excerpt from a novel as a short story. (The contributors’ notes indicate that the author is publishing a novel in the Spring called The God of War.) Since this makes no sense as a story there's hardly any point in discussing it.

December 3, 2007: “The Visitor” by Marisa Silver

4 comments:

Xujun Eberlein said...

I liked the writing of the story but had the same reaction as you did about its storyline. I wish the New Yorker labels an excerpt as excerpt.

Clifford Garstang said...

Xujun, I agree that the voice of Candy was engaging and I agree that the writing was strong. I'd be interested in seeing more of the relationship between her and El Lobo. So I don't blame the writer for this problem, but I don't think the solution is a label.

Mary Akers said...

What I liked about the story was Candy's violent feelings toward El Lobo. That felt very real (and yet surprising) to me--a caretaker's anger toward her helpless charge--and I also liked that it was the anger that was their bond.

Martin J. Amaral said...

Apparently, it's not an excerpt. I liked the tone of the story, as well as the development of Candy's character, but it heavily lacks in plot and theme.