Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Other Place - New Yorker Fiction

The Other Place
By Mary Gaitskill in the New Yorker

In the short story, “The Other Place”, the narrator, observes his own flawed DNA through his young son Douglas whom he believes to have inherited his undesirable traits - speech impediment, a slight tremor and more ominously, a penchant for enjoying violence against woman. He studies Douglas's oddities with concern, fear and an eery personal understanding that pulls him back to his own troubled childhood in search of the wounds which have created a dangerous fascination with pain and destruction. He traces the path that lead from his frustrations at failing to communicate adequately with the girl next door while being burdened with an emotionally turbulent mother pushing him to create an escape in “another place” where he is the oppressor and not the oppressed. He fantasizes about these moments into which he escapes into. Unable to build a romantic relationship nor to leave his oppressive household his pain crescendos and he buys a gun to unleash his unhappiness onto someone else. He does not count on the possibility that the person has more problems then he does, and that she does not cower as he envision she would, but instead refuses to go along with his plans and eventually orders him out of her car. She has forced him out of his “other place” his escape to a more violently empowering self, but now strangely years after he encounters her again in his sons dream he realizes he must be there for his son now.

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