Reading Response #12

Select one of the stories assigned this week, and post a 500-word response below on what you saw as the story’s strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to also make a comment on a classmate's response for full credit. Find the stories linked below!

26 thoughts on “Reading Response #12

  1. Katherine Whelchel

    “Emergency” by Denis Johnson was very interesting. The language style was casual; I felt like I was hearing the story directly from Johnson’s mouth. The realistic storytelling vibe that was sown into the story seemed to be purposeful. As for the actual storyline, I found it philosophical in some places and disturbing in others. I did not perceive a deeper, underlying message, however, the wording and character development made it seem like there was supposed to be one.

    I was surprised by the different things that happened within the story: Georgie mopping up the blood, their stealing of pills, the hunting knife in the eye of Terrance, and the dead rabbit babies. Overall, it seemed like the story of two drug addicts trying to go about normal life. Working in an emergency room can already be a struggle, but trying to navigate while taking pills just seems disastrous. From some of Georgie’s language, I came to think that the large number of pills taken, was a coping mechanism for what they had seen and experienced.

    Overall, I was left with an odd feeling of incompleteness. The story did not mean much to me; after I finished reading it, I just felt sorry for the characters. Maybe that was Denis Johnson’s goal. Maybe he wanted to create characters that lived lives of circular problems and never-ending destructive cycles. With just a glimpse into their lives, I felt as if I knew their backstory and their future.

    1. Monica Gallagher

      There really was no meaning that I could find either. If you wanted to fight for a possible meaning it could go back to, as you said, a possible coping strategy. But, the type of drug abuse highlighted was more than just an acute coping mechanism. It seemed like a chronic one that was at a high point due to an event that had happened that stunned him to the point of losing his mind. They both lost their mind. And now that I think about it, I’m not sure why the other main character did. Was one just a generalized addict and the other one a coping addict that turned into a full blown cluster*&c#. I’m not sure. Whatever it was it had no purpose or meaning. If there was one, it couldn’t be deciphered unless you were in the same mindset as the characters and no one could replicate that, except maybe the writer.

    2. Michelle Cordova

      I like your thoughts on “Emergency” by Denis Johnson. I, too, felt that this one was a little odd and lacked a message. It was still an interesting read for me, but maybe because it is so different. I’m not sure I could ever come up with a story about mopping up blood, knives in eyes, and running over pregnant jackrabbits, and having all of it connect!

  2. Leah Rego

    I found the colorful and detailed imagery in Dennis Johnson’s “Emergency” did a very good job of illustrating the story. It was a very visual story and the characters were quite colorful. However i had trouble following the disjointed nature of the story as it flitted from place to place, perhaps this was an intentional thing meant to show the less than coherent mental process due to the drugs that Georgie and the narrator had taken, but it made it difficult for me to read. Additionally I didn’t find that there was a real story in it all, more of an anecdote.

    1. Andrew Lange

      Agreed- the language used in this story (And, actually, all three!) was extremely casual- it was as though we were reading a person’s internal thoughts, which are often somewhat disjointed. As also mentioned, I felt as though this was more of just a random anecdote than an actual story- it happened to someone I assume, but the way the piece is written makes me think the individual was just remembering and reflecting upon the incidents laid out in the story years later, as opposed to formally telling them to someone, i.e remembering a job they had when they were in college one summer.

  3. Andrew Lange

    I, for one, honestly found all three stories to be equally disgusting at times, dealing with sex and shady, raunchy, characters, and was wondering why we ended up with these particular pieces but that’s just me. 

I’ll go with “Lawns”. This one jumped around a bit, clearly dealing with the narrator’s personal conflicts, both internal and external. The story begins with the main character committing mass mail theft in a university campus substation post office, enjoying the ‘euphoria’, if you will, that comes with being such a thief. He even mentions in the story that he knows that tampering with U.S. mail is a Federal crime, but that he doesn’t care; he’ll “never” get caught, right? 

As the story wears on, we realize that he is gay and is in love with another male partner; this is clearly a conflict of morals, between social normals and how he feels. Later, it is revealed that there are marital issues occurring with the narrator’s parents, possibly brought along by their son’s gay tendencies. 

Interspersed throughout the story are other anecdotes about the narrator’s parents and their involvement with him, such as his mother wanting to visit his college dormitory, having never been there since his father had initially helped him move in. 

One of the strengths of this piece would undoubtedly be how it portrays how the narrator feels; his thoughts are showcased quite well. As the story develops we are given new pieces of information, much as how when casually relating a story to someone we often find ourselves backtracking to explain a tie-in to something else or deviating onto a tangent to explain how something happened. This is apparent when, for example, the main character has flashbacks about his parents, such as one incident with his father in the shower as a child which fascinated him with masculine genitalia, or how he and his father once got in an argument and he hit his father, as a fourteen-year-old at the time. 

One of the weaknesses, for me personally, would simply be the subject matter of the story. Although I imagine this is something that actually happened to the author or main character, (Perhaps the main character is a projection of the author themselves at a checkered time in their own past, finally owning up to things they did, or admitting to being or having been gay), I just found myself cringing as the story almost glorified the mail theft, among other things. I admittedly also cringed a bit at the gay part, but only because of my own personal values, so I don’t know if that can count as an actual weakness of the story or just my own reaction as I was reading it.

    1. Leah Rego

      I didn’t take issue with the content of the stories as much as the style. I’m not much for the train of thought way of writing, it really seems too much as if the author doesn’t have enough respect for their audience to be bothered with telling the story in a more coherent fashion. I don’t like asking myself what did I miss every few minutes of reading.

    2. Monica Gallagher

      I thought the main character of ‘Lawns’ was a girl. I don’t really remember any sort of fight either between the main character and the father. I do hear what you’re saying about it being cringe worthy though. And as I had said in my response, it seems like it is done for no reason, which is probably, in my opinion the main theme for all three of the short stories this week. A taboo subject held up as a climax point with no intent or follow through used.

  4. Monica Gallagher

    Gaitskill’s Romantic Weekend was not very romantic. It wasn’t even a great story. It was awkward most of the time and the awkwardness wasn’t very purposeful in drawing the reader into a climax or larger meaning to the story. It was just awkwardness portraying both characters quirks and their interplay becoming an even larger unhealthy quirk.

    It was reminiscent of Fifty Shades, which I lovingly like to call Filthy Shades. I’m not sure if that was what the author was going for, if she was just trying to replicate that type of work, but I didn’t appreciate or respect it. I feel like it highlighted abnormalities and twists of the psyche without any real intent. Maybe the writer did not have an intent, or possibly the writer’s intent was to showcase the myriad of psychological issues that come to play within people that have no intent whatsoever. I felt like it was vulgar with no other purpose except to be vulgar. The story did not seem genuine or serious. It was trash.

    Johnson’s Emergency was also trash in a very different way. This one was reminiscent of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It was drug fueled and chaotic. It made absolutely no sense and you could feel the room spinning as you were reading it. At least this story gave you a feeling, whereas Gaitskill’s was completely dead, no life. With Emergency there was some sign of life, even if it was not in the same realm as everyone else’s. It gave a glimpse into the mind of a person who enjoys a rollercoaster of drugs. The fact that a portion of it took place in a hospital is an interesting point made. The way that the writer showed the drug interactions within the hospital pushed on what would be realistically capable in that setting. He almost lost me on credibility there, but it also didn’t give a specific time setting either. Boo.

    Simpson’s Lawns broke my brain for no reason. This is yet another example of inputting something psychologically disturbing into a story and then not using it. She just left it dangling there like a broken limb and even that didn’t feel purposeful, because of the way that the main character was portrayed in handling said broken limb. I just have a really hard time with stories that have these almost epic set ups that amount to literally nothing and then it’s over. I would rather them spend less time on the build up and get to the climax so that way they would have enough energy to follow through with an ending. Even if you could allow for an open ending, there still has to be something that even the character in the story walks away with. Or maybe I just don’t really like that style of fiction ending, I’m not sure.

    Either way, the book initially interested me, I was intrigued by the whole mail woman theft. It went on a little too long, more so after I finished the book and realized where she was going with it. The way that she unveiled the incest with her Dad was clever and unexpected. It was an explanation to her thieving. The after effect of that epic unveiling was very bland and not full enough. So that was disappointing in itself, and then having the mystery letter being unread at the end really did me in. I thought, well okay that was a waste of time. Not exactly what you want your readers to feel at the end of your story.

    1. Corbin Knapp

      I agree with you that all of these stories are trash. You made an excellent point in writing that theses stories don’t really have any real feeling to them, and are just vulgar for the sake of being vulgar. I also agree with the points you made about Emergency, and how it is just a different kind of trash. Thanks for your essay!

      1. Naimy Schommer

        I think that while yes, these stories are devoid of feeling, they also portray the difficulty with which people deal with sexual assault extremely well. They don’t have real feeling to them because the characters are so numbed due to their unhealthy exposure. I personally am revolted but I get it. The authors’ creative choice is a way they show how a character might be impacted by the violence and not even know it.

    2. Aundrea Pierce


      You analyzed the stories perfectly. There were a few times I put the book down and came back later. I felt a sense of rambling, especially in “Lawns” for a while. “Romantic weekend” had me feeling just like the main character, awkward and unsure. However, I felt this easier to follow along than the other two. The other two I knew about thieves and drugs, but with this one, it was more like uncharted territory. I don’t know much about the sexual world of slaves and dominatrix stuff. I quickly discovered it’s a no-go for me, but I tried my best to keep an open mind while reading. I do admire the author’s technique of taking some deep, dark, and personal feelings to display for all to read (if you know what I mean).

    3. Cassidy Kramer

      Thanks for your point of view! Yes, I agree that these books are very interesting but very disturbing.

  5. Michelle Cordova

    I found all of the stories in Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson to be a little odd, but interesting at the same time. I never felt bored while reading his collection, as strange as they are, but instead, captivated and eager to read what would happen next as there always seemed to be a twist I never would have imagined.

    “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” along with the other stories, deals with drugs, alcohol, and addiction, which seems to be what the writer is dealing with when coming up with his stories! Honestly, it takes a lot of imagination to create pieces like this, in my opinion! This story starts off by describing the vehicles and people that the narrator encounters during his travels. These individuals, a Cherokee, salesperson, and college student, give him rides and drugs, and before you know it, he is abandoned in the rain. That is, until a family in an Oldsmobile picks him up, promising to take him to his destination. However, the narrator claims to know what is going to happen, before it does, as if the drugs give him the ability to see the future. Even knowing that the family was going to be involved in a terrible car accident that night, the narrator still chooses to accept the ride. After the crash, the narrator describes the aftermath, and how he tries to get help while holding the infant, who miraculously seems to be unharmed by the crash. Once the paramedics and police officers arrive, they talk the narrator into going to the hospital to be checked out, and even though he insists he is fine, he gives in. While at the hospital, however, he sees the driver’s wife and hears her screams as the doctor tells her that her husband did not survive.

    This story is interesting to me, not because of the drugs or bad fate, but because I think it is relatable in so many different ways. We are all given chances, over and over again in this life, and even though we know that our actions have consequences, sometimes negative, we still choose to defy the laws of nature, never truly letting go of the “it won’t happen to me fable.” Also, there are simply things that are out of our control, such as a driver falling asleep behind the wheel of a car, which can impact another’s life in the blink of an eye.

    Overall, I found Johnson’s collection fascinating and different, which made reading his work entertaining.

    1. Jessica Honebein

      Michelle! I like the perspective that you provide on the story. When I read it I did not think of it this way, so now I might have to go back and re-read it again. I do have to agree with you that the story does provide a good message that everything is feasible no matter what you think.

  6. Corbin Knapp

    I had a hard time choosing what short story to review this week, but I eventually decided on Emergency by Denis Johnson. All three of this week’s stories were very disturbing, but Emergency was the least disturbing out of them all. The funny thing is I was assigned to read this in another class as well, but I was only required to read part of it. I finally got to read the whole story, and write my reading review about it now.

    The things that happen throughout the story were rather confusing for me, and at some times I could not follow the author’s train of thought. Otherwise, it was an interesting story that showed some insight into a very dysfunctional hospital. The story starts out with the narrator telling the readers how long he has been working in the hospital and how during the night shift he had nothing to do except wander around the hospital and batch insurance reports from the day shift. I enjoyed how the narrator had a very relaxed feeling into how he described his work at the hospital because it helped me become engaged with the story right away.

    Shortly after the narrator described what he usually did during his night shift at the hospital, the author introduced the first character who was not the narrator. The character was a guy named Georgie, who was one of the hospital’s orderlies and a good friend of the narrator. I assume that Georgie was on some kind of drug or something because he believed that he was cleaning up blood when the floor appeared perfectly clean to the narrator. He was crying and said that people have so much goop inside them and that it all wants to come out. Later on a doctor asked for Georgie and a nurse told him that he was still cleaning up. My suspicion was shortly afterwards proved right as the narrator took some pills out of Georgie’s pocket.

    Then a man was let into the ER by Georgie with a knife stuck in his eye. The nurse was shocked that he was still alive and he told her that he just walked three blocks from his house to the hospital. She told him to lie down and he agreed. I think it’s kind of funny that the guy is totally relaxed that he has a knife in his eye and that he can’t move his hand because the knife might be doing something to his brain. While they were debating on how to remove the knife safely, Georgie walked In holding the knife. He told them that he just removed it from the guy’s eye and that he was perfectly fine.

    The rest of the story is a bit confusing. The narrator goes on a drive with Georgie and they hit a rabbit. Then Georgie cut the rabbit open and discovered that it was pregnant. The following sentences were a bit disturbing and confusing, but how I interpret it is that Georgie cut out the rabbit’s babies and they drove back with the baby rabbits in the narrator’s lap when the narrator accidentally killed the rabbits and they ended up getting lost. I thought that Emergency was an interesting read, but it got a little confusing towards the end. All in all I don’t think I would ever go to this hospital.

    Works Cited

    Johnson, Denis. “Emergency.” The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 274-285.

    1. Ben Knapp

      I agree that this hospital doesn’t seem very good! I didn’t really enjoy this story, but you did a good job of describing it. Overall, I think I like your review better than the story itself!

  7. Aubri Stogsdill

    “Lawns” was very disturbing. As I read, I had no clue how evil it was going to become. Sure, stealing mail is wrong, but the fact that Jenny had been sexually abused by her father since she was eight years old really stole the show. It was strange how disconnected she was from the lies she told and the things that she did that were wrong, but when the author began to explain her past, it made total sense. Having been brought up having to lie, constantly being violated by someone who is supposed to protect you broke Jenny, as it would break any child. There is a sort of numbness and disconnection in the way that this story was written, and it makes total sense.

    Initially, I didn’t understand why Jenny had so much distain for her mother, but seeing that for years her mother hadn’t detected the abuse that was taking place, it made sense. Her mother was full of pride. She thought that their family was so much better than other families, but she was totally unaware of the nasty secret. I guess what really pisses me off about sexual abuse, especailly within families and of CHILDREN is that fact that they don’t really understand. And they don’t have a voice. Jenny just thought this was how things were- this is life. But what was happening to her was so evil.

    I think the strongest point of this story was when Jenny’s roommate, Lauren, took her to an elementary school and they watched as a bunch of children ran outside for their lunch break. Lauren begins to talk about how these little girls are eight. Then she says that one of their fathers is raping them. She says Jenny can’t be anymore angry with herself than she could be with one of these innocent little girls who is being abused. In that moment, Jenny wasn’t a cleptomanic perv who liked to have sex with her dad. She was transfomed into a little girl who didn’t understand what her father was doing to her or why. She became a victim in my eyes. A broken little girl who needed love, protection, and someone to fight for her.

    This story speaks volumes about the effects of sexual abuse. Jenny isn’t able to fully enjoy her current sex life because of the wounds of the past. During her intimate times with her boyfriend, she says she has to calm herself down, and tell herself that this is what she wants. She was sexually tramatized, and that is something that does not just go away. Sexual abuse it so evil and selfish. The way the author wrote this story was compelling and effective.

  8. Jessica Honebein

    Just like last week’s readings these were interesting to read. All three of them did have some strange and disturbing aspects about them. The one that I am choosing to analyse is “A Romantic Weekend” by Mary Gaitskill. I found this to be very interesting because it was not an ordinary love story that you normally read about, it was almost as if the author was trying to uncover nature of dominance and submission that can exist in a relationship. The title of the story definitely tricked me into thinking that it was going to be a much different story! The story is about Beth and the weekend affair she is having but what the author uncovers if that they do not get along when it comes to love and personalities. In the story the man treats Beth badly, just to prove his point. But toward the end, we find out that the man confesses his love toward Beth and was just acting cowardly.

    One strength of Gaitskill’s that I noticed right away was the description of her characters. I can picture the way she describes Beth and her personality. I think that this helps with understanding the characters in a deeper way and why they feel the way that they do. I felt that I could also picture the man and throughout the story I learned more and more about him. Through both the character I found this story to be less about just sexual dominance and more about uncovering the treteries of sexual relationship forgery. Both characters are labeled with both sadist and masochism ideals. Honestly the ideas he brought up like “pissing on eachother” was completely revolting and shocking to me. I think that his character completely embodied a bully. In other words he did not just love her and wanted (for lack of better words) “kinky” sex. Instead he was just trying to beat the feelings out of himself while asserting his dominance.

    I suppose this story could be some peoples cup of tea but I just find it revolting. I think that the man is what really pushes me away from the story. The reason I continued to read it was because I wanted to find out in the end if she kept sneaking around and seeing the married man. I also found it strange that Beth fell for him even more when he told her that he wouldn’t hurt her anymore than she can take. It also reminded me of Fifty Shades of Grey, and the whole BDSM factors. This story honestly is a dark pit though, you need a strong stomach to get through the whole thing. I felt like the man was a psycho that hated the women, but it seems as if Gaitskill never judged him and only told the story. I don’t think I could ever write a story like this because I would want to interject as the narrator or something and express how disturbing the man was being or how the woman is thinking irrationally. Overall it was an interestingly disturbing story that I do not feel I will be reading again anytime soon.

  9. Sierra Russell-McCollum

    As I was reading this week’s readings I found myself losing interest quite quickly. Nothing was really sticking out to me in a good way or a bad way. I was kind of disappointed because I wanted to at least like one piece, but they just weren’t working out for me.

    I would have to say the one I thought was going to spike my interest was “Emergency” by Denis Johnson. I usually like hearing about people’s jobs in the emergency rooms but I found this one not extremely interesting at points. I was constantly searching for the main point of this piece but was constantly let down. I still, after reading this a couple of times, don’t understand what the author was really trying to get at. Don’t get me wrong there were some points that actually did catch my interest like him mopping up blood like it was nothing and other little things here and there. But I found that his writing style was quite bland at some moments. Another perk of this story was the way he would make everything seem so visible. That was really the only thing that kept me reading. I felt like I was seeing what he was describing. But when Johnson was changing the theme it would get bland and boring.

    I feel like Johnson could have added so much more to his story to make it more interesting for the reader to follow along. He has a very straightforward writing style, which for me is hard to follow along with. This story could have been so much more with more description and a more fun writing style ( I don’t really know how to say what I’m thinking, bear with me). The story felt like it was incomplete like something big was missing. I really wished that this piece would have worked for me, but sadly it didn’t. I just wish it could offer more for the readers.

    1. Caitlyn Williams

      I agree! It was hard to follow after a while, but it was interesting to read about a 1970’s druggie that worked in a catholic hospital. It was a bit unsettling, and i wasn’t sure what the author wanted the reader to get out of it either.

  10. Aundrea Pierce

    In Mary Gaitskill’s “A Romantic Weekend” there was nothing romantic about it! This story does not define the definition of love, or how I define love. If the main character came from a broken home or experienced abuse (which she hints at), then I can understand why she felt like she was “in love.” Gaitskill did a good job portraying the woman character as broken, but maybe not a hopeless cause. For instance, she used the man’s character throughout the story to describe the deep dark aspects of the woman character; which I interpreted as a woman who has a sexual preference with dominate men. However, the man she thought she was in love with turns out to be into some pretty dark stuff that she’s not sure she can enjoy. It’s almost like the whole purpose of the story is the woman character finding out where she lies on the whole slave and dominatrix sexual scale. Also, Gaitskill includes the man’s Korean wife. The Korean woman was described as an elegant and feminine woman, the opposite of the main character. So, we have two characters to help the reader analyze and relate to the main female character. In my opinion, she seems to be in the middle in comparison to both. I like how Gaitskill utilized the surrounding environment to help paint some imagery for readers. She used pieces of images to help relate it to the characters or emphasize the meaning of something. For example, the garbage on the street stirred up the emotion of how the woman felt about her encounter with the man; she wanted it perfect and “scrap-free.”

    The story opened with the woman’s perspective and then switched to the man’s view on page 186 to about 188. The remainder of the story was written from a third person perspective. It was nice to hear the thoughts of both the man and woman, but for some reason, I kept thinking the woman was the main character and focus. Maybe because the story opened with her? Or maybe there was more descriptive information on the woman compared to the man. As a reader, I felt awkward and a little uncomfortable while reading the story, but maybe that was Gaitskill’s objective. I noticed I like characters to have names, and I don’t remember catching any names in this story. I felt a sense of sadness and sympathy for the woman (so she deserves a name!). I felt this back and forth battle because he wanted to treat the woman like dirt and inflict pain basically and I personally don’t want any woman to be treated that way. But when the woman reveals she liked certain things about it, I felt like “who am I to judge?” If that’s what she wants, then whatever floats your boat. Right? This story certainly sparked an internal debate with me, as you might tell!

  11. Naimy Schommer

    “Lawns” is horrifying.
    I think that the author tied the character’s problems together really well. We start off thinking she’s a bit of an odd duck, on the out crowd, and weird. I’m not invested in the character’s personal development until her dad comes to visit her. I knew where this story was going from the point where she describes her dad standing in the dorm hall. Honestly, I didn’t want to keep reading.
    One thing I did appreciate from this horrific story is the main character’s attitude towards her sexual assault. In the end, she basically says she’s numb to it, that she doesn’t really care that it happened anymore, which… I mean good for her I guess but that’s not a typical response. I do think her attitude towards it is just something that happened to her and not something that is going to hold her back for the rest of her life is awesome. She as a character is not held back by the experience. She’s going to struggle, obviously, because she’s human. That’s where Lauren, her roommate comes into play.
    I really liked the ending where she fishes the envelope out of the trash and puts it in her own mail slot. I read that as signifying the character’s decision to not be afraid. She put the envelope into the mail slot and actively chose to stop hiding her problems but instead deal with them out in the open where she could be honest. \
    Again, really love how this story is all tied together and how you can so easily see the ways sexual assault infects a person.

  12. Ben Knapp

    The story “Emergency,” by Denise Johnson, seems to be written entirely for one purpose; to shock the reader. From the start it uses one horrible image after another as if to tell the reader yes, it can get worse. The story’s dark humor, although definitely present, can be difficult to enjoy due to the sheer horror of the story.

    It starts off pleasantly enough with a description of the narrator’s life working for the hospital, and his good friend Georgie. The story quickly dives down a dark path as a conversation breaks out between the narrator and Georgie. They seemed shocked by their jobs as janitors, cleaning up after surgery. One thing they seem disturbed by is the amount of blood they have to clean up.

    Almost immediately, the reader can tell that all is not well in the world of the narrator and Georgie. While Georgie is worried about how his shoes have been soaked while cleaning, the narrator is instead concerned about something that Georgie stole. Rather than being worried about his friend stealing, the narrator is instead concerned with Georgie sharing whatever it is he stole. It is later revealed that Georgie and his friend are drug addicts, and have been stealing pills from the hospital.

    While they are at the hospital, a man arrives with a knife sticking out of his eye. To further add to the shock of this, it is soon discovered that it was his wife that put the knife in his eye. Not only this, but this is not the first time he has been knifed in the eye, presumably by his wife, because it is soon revealed that he has a glass eye. The author has a talent for layering one horrible thing on top of another in order to make sure that the reader has no time to recover from the last shock.

    The author then shows us just how unsafe it is to have a drug addict working in a hospital as, when he is supposed to be prepping the man for surgery, Georgie decides to instead pull the knife out himself. Somehow, the man is perfectly fine after Georgie’s “treatment.”

    After their shift at the hospital is over, Georgie and the narrator drive away, still under the effects of the drugs they stole. While driving, they hit a pregnant rabbit. Due to the help of a family in a passing car, they are able to save the baby rabbits. However, a happy ending is clearly not a direction the author wanted this story to take, and soon afterwards the baby rabbits are accidentally killed by the narrator. The story ends with the pair picking up a hitchhiker, who seems to be in worse shape then they are, and the three of them end up driving away to Canada, for mostly unexplained reasons.

    When reading this story, I mostly felt like I wanted to get out of this nightmare world as soon as possible. I was happy to finish it, which is generally not a good thing when it comes to a story. Overall, I don’t think I will ever choose to read this story again.

    Works Cited

    Johnson, Denise. “Emergency.” The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 274-285.

  13. Caitlyn Williams

    The stories assigned this week were interesting to say the least. I chose to write my reading response on the short story “Emergency” by Denis Johnson. This story’s setting fit the timeframe. A 1970’s hospital with some people hooked on random pills from a hospital. I can see this being a scene from an older movie, which is a strength. I found it interesting that the narrator didn’t give Nurse a name; that shows he didn’t really care, and it showed some character.

    I liked that the situation with the eye stabbing is included in the story, it shows what happens late at night in the hospitals. The whole story is a bit hard to ingest, the guys being on drugs and getting lost. It’s disturbing, and that’s one weakness this short story has. It was unsettling to read that the narrator was “chewing” different pills, and by the end he feels like a helium balloon.

    Another strength this story has is that it includes a background. I liked that the narrator included that you forget its summer, and how you go through two double shifts by sleeping in gurneys. It shows realism, and how hard hospital staff works. It was interesting the way the narrator describes seeing “A champion of the drug LSD” and doesn’t realize that he’s taken just as much acid as he has. This shows his drug history, and it’s a bit troubling to read about hospital staff that are druggies. It’s a real issue (staff stealing pharmaceuticals) and I am glad it brings that into light.

    This story was overall a disturbing read, and I would not choose to read it again. It was an interesting piece, and I liked that it showed a perspective of a hospital clerk that is a druggie. I feel as though the title fits throughout the story. It was an emergency when the guy came in with a knife sticking in his eye, and it was also an emergency when the narrator and Georgie got lost.

    I don’t think that the ending of this story was good. He introduces another character Hardee, and it turns out Hardee is AWOL from his enlistment and has to go to Canada. Talk about another emergency. Although I disliked the ending, it was an ending, and it was an interesting one. Did they ditch the hospital and take their friend Hardee to Canada? We may never know. The narrator includes something strange at the end of the story, which was, “That world! These days it’s all been erased and they’ve rolled up like a scroll and put it away somewhere. Yes I can touch it with my fingers. But where is it?” These words confused me a bit. Is he referring that he was on a bad bender and can’t remember the past few days? Either way it was an interesting read.

  14. Cassidy Kramer

    I read “A Romantic Weekend” by Mary Gaitskill. I was very shocked at how this story turned out. First of all, the weirdest thing about the story is the title “A Romantic Weekend”. I thought more about this title, and why Gaitskill felt as though she should choose it. The most obvious reason to me was that she was taking it from the man’s perspective. Even though he hated this girl that he found, at the end, he imagined up a “perfect” scenario in his head where he would go and have sex with the lady, and then go home to his wife for dinner. So, to him, I guess the weekend could be considered romantic with his disgusting thoughts and his weird ways.
    The beginning of the story had me quite thrown off. I thought the way that the story would go, is that she would get blown off, go home, and spend the whole weekend with herself realizing how beautiful she is and how important, building her self-confidence. But of course, my optimistic views were trampled on the moment the guy eating his pizza watching her was mentioned. No matter how much I wanted to hear about how a shy, insecure girl becomes confident in herself, I still was extremely curious on why she is so interested in this repulsive man, which led me to keep reading the story.
    Both the woman and the man character in the story “A Romantic Weekend” reminded me of the story we read last week “Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta”. Both of the guys were very demanding and expecting of the woman. The reader was very easily informed how disgusting they were and that they were just gross jerks. On the other hand, both of the female characters were very small. They did not have any voice or choice inside of them, and they not only let the guy take advantage, but they gave it to them willingly.
    Right now, I am very single, so reading these stories has sort of gave me a determination to never let myself be the female character in the story, along with obviously not letting a guy treat me in that way. I did however see the female character grow a bit stronger, or at least show what she was feeling throughout the story. She went from insecure about being stood up, to telling the man what she felt without being scared. I thought this story was interesting, but I wouldn’t say I liked it.

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