Jonathan Durbin’s “Dad Thing”

kkardash cry

Do you, dear humans, ever feel small?

I do. And that’s why I appreciated Jonathan Durbin’s recent short story, “Dad Thing,” in Electric Literature‘s repeatedly rewarding online series, Recommended Reading. In this piece, the narrator is visiting his ailing father in Los Angeles and agrees to meet an old friend, a successful sport agent named Neal, at Neal’s beautiful home, which is “secretly” being renovated by a film crew for a reality television show. Through the course of their nostalgic conversation, Neal reveals that everything in his dream world is not as perfect as it seems from the outside. When Neal’s drunken girlfriend, Soraya, arrives, the truth of the situation begins to penetrate the thin veil of Neal’s tales. Despite the obvious tension, the narrator keeps silent, withholding a great deal of buried pain and concern for his sick father. Will he spill the beans, as it were? The question at the heart of the piece becomes this – do other humans forfeit their right to the benefits of a normal friendship if the blind themselves with arrogance?

Durbin’s character of Neal, the wealthy sports agent, made me feel small. Small, dear reader! In this hardscrabble world of publishing, 7 feet and 8 inches is simply not tall enough. These days my failure to publish my manuscript – Beautiful On The Outside – leads me to feel downright deflated. Almost like Kim Kardashian prior to 2006.

On the bright side, unlike the narrator from “Dad Thing,” I have no trouble expressing my insecurities to you, my precious homo sapiens. Your awe and praise gives me hope.

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