Fiction from Dialogue 47.1 (Spring 2014)


"Acute Distress, Intensive Care" by Karen Rosenbaum
This slice-of-life is perhaps more painful in its matter-of-fact sadness while observing loss of faith than in its observation of death and interfamily failure. Which is interesting because the narration certainly does not judge or condemn those who have lost their faith. And it's doesn't make the faithful seem more happy or full or honest, with the possible exception of an autistic teenager who encounters the sublime while saying the sacrament prayer for his congregation.

Whether faithful or faithless---whether seeing answers where they might not be or failing to see answers where they might be---each of us has some untouchable core of isolation and sadness and decay as entropy slowly claims us all.

Which sounds like a downer, but Karen's work always maintains a certain beauty and purity no matter how uncheerful it's subject or execution.

"Two-Dog Dose" by Steven L. Peck
A technique I'm losing patience with in general is the in-media-res-then-let's-go-back-and-surprise-the-beginning-was-actually-near-the-end. I can't deny that Peck uses it to terrific effect here, but I think that's largely due to how dang corporeal and shocking it is rather than any need for the story to have had that shape. Not, anyway, if it had had a different title.

(Incidentally, what is it with Peck and killing canines?)

Anyway, story is a powerful one about the decline of age and the decision to choose one's own moment of death and friendship and love and trust and faith. As in Rosenbaum's story, the p-o-v has lost his faith while remaining close to those who remain close to faith. And both story's share redemptive elements for the faithless character, without returning them to the community of faith.

Anyway, it's a moving tale and an significant addition to those keeping a lists of Mormon stories about male friendship.

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