Wednesday Jun 19

Robert_Clark_Young One of the great values of literature and the other arts is that they deepen our humanity by stimulating our empathy for others. This month I present four pieces that are exemplary in their ability to do this for the reader.
 
In “Go Back Ten,” Andrew Post, a young writer, displays a maturity beyond his chronological age.  Somehow, he is privy to a reality that comes upon us only with the rolling forward of many years—the surreal sense of looking back over the decades without being able to believe how quickly they have passed or how much everything has changed.
 
In “You Should Go Home Now,” Anath White presents a narrative that could easily lend itself to cliché or gratuitousness.  But in White’s masterful hands, the story of a man whose doings might not naturally be sympathetic becomes an empathetic tale, since we can all identify, at one point or another in our lives, with finding what is spiritually and emotionally nutritious about the forbidden.
 
In “Our Bodies Like We Do,” Cynthia Ann Schemmer demonstrates that the essential state of empathy is achievable not only by interaction with our friends and family, but also with the pets we invite into our lives.  I won’t give away much more here.  You must read this complex, multilevel story for yourself.  It ably demonstrates what creative nonfiction is supposed to be all about:  a true story told with all of the dramatic narrative effects of fiction.
 
Finally, “On the Island of Lost and Found,” Kirk Hathaway takes us on a journey of empathy through a realm most of us know little about, the world of divers.  Hathaway is not content merely to teach us about this world—although he does a fine job of that—but he makes the reality of divers salient to us in a way that makes us feel what only they can feel.