Monday, February 27, 2012

139. SHORT STORY MONDAY: Twins by C. E. Morgan

Twins by C. E. Morgan is the last of the eight stories featured by The New Yorker in their June 14 & 21, 2010 edition. Marie is a young woman with aspirations: she wants to get a degree and become a teacher; currently, with her diploma, she works as a receptionist for a dentist.

The family moved from their polluted Northside home to Knowlton's Corner after a quarrel. And as a racial family with blacks and whites living down south, they are made to deal with some form of racial comments and insinuations now and then. Mike Shaughnessy, the father is Irish and Marie is black. Their sons (the twins) are also colour-divied: Allmon is black and Mickey is white. This somewhat genetic happenstance became curious to the people in the town for both children and adults alike. So that when they go out to play, questions are asked about who their father is and if they are siblings. People, especially from the adults, would dote on Mickey whilst Allmon would stand back; however, the love that existed between the two did not wane. There were times that Mickey had to deny that he is white, claiming that his father is black.

Marie herself had suffered from this. For instance, someone asked her if she had slept with a white man and a black man at the same time and this got her incensed. In spite of this, and in spite of the fact that her trucker husband spends less time with the family, she wants to keep the family together. And would do everything even if it is to tolerate some of Mike's eccentricities and bad manners and force her children to play up 'good' behaviour.

Not that it was a difficult to read story but perhaps because of the cultural setting I found it difficult to put the pieces together to get the full understanding of what Morgan was saying. Unlike novels and novellas, short stories require careful reading and the need to grasp each scene and link it with the others germane to its total understanding.

However, Twins is fascinating in a sort of way. The dreamlike ending, whether Allmon and Mickey actually attended the carnival when their father disappointed them or only dreamt about it, kept me thinking. Morgan's language is precise, stripped to its barest necessities.

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