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In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is BuriedAmy Hempel Author BiographyPlot Born December 14, , in Chicago, Illinois, Amy Hempel moved to San. Tell me things I won’t mind forgetting,” she said. “Make it useless stuff or skip it.” I began. I told her insects fly through rain, mi For the short story reader. Updated. Amy Hempel’s In The cemetery Where Al Jolsen is Buried is a moving story of a woman living through the death of her best friend from a terminal illness.

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She has nempel away from her friend because she is afraid that looking at a reality she normally pretends does not exist will drag her into the abyss. Commentary This story is an intriguing, frank, and pithy rendering of complex reactions to the dying of loved cfmetery. Like the mother chimp who is trained to sign, the narrator and her friend train themselves to speak only in trivia—like signing, an alternate and artificial form of language—to speak only about things that do not matter.

In fact, the danger springs from forgiving: Nevertheless, like the earthquake the two roommates hoped to forestall but were unable to prevent, the woman is. The truth of this trivia is not important because truth is merely an irrelevant abstraction in the face of death.

It played us to the nurses down the hall in Intensive Care. The danger that springs from this kind of thinking is obvious in this story and, for that matter, in much of the world it reflects.

“In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried”

The patient may then become angry, resenting others who enjoy good health and blaming doctors and relatives for their inability to help. Definitely worth a reread at some point. But the stories have, at least for the moment, done their dirty job: After dinner I would shimmer with lust, buzz with heat, life, and stay up all night.


Alternately, the narrator uses humor as a form of denial, like when she reads an item from the newspaper about a man who robs a bank with a chicken. Aldridge evaluates the writing styles and creative work of new writers whose fiction has been produced in college and university creative writing centers.

In The Cemetery Where Al Jolsen is Buried

There are no truths, there is no meaning to life, there is only death at the end, so what demetery possibly matter? Jun 23, Elysa rated it it was amazing Shelves: The friend throws a fit upon realizing the narrator is leaving, yanking off her protective mask and running out of the room.

Minimalism has its uses, and can achieve surprisingly varied effects: Robert Peltier is an English instructor at Trinity College and has published works of both fiction and nonfiction.

Our newest weekly issues. At its best it can, with cemstery and restraint, amplify perception and force meaning to leap from the page.

Open Preview See a Problem? To her credit, Ms. The narrator in this story has not been able to bring herself to visit her best friend in the hospital for two months; her fear has been stronger than her sense of decency.

Jan 29, Vedang Manerikar rated it it was amazing Shelves: Dec 10, Justine rated it really liked it. The one that really got to me was not the grisliest henpel, but it’s the one that did. As with the useless things that she once told her friend, she makes no distinction between what amj true and what is false, because in a postmodern philosophy one might say that postmodernism is actually a lack of any philosophy there is no difference and it does not matter.


xmy Two months, and how long is the drive? Jun 21, SherwoodDemon rated it liked it Shelves: Imagine how her trainers must have thrilled when the mother, without promptingbegan to sign to her newborn.

I told her insects fly through rain, missing every drop, never getting wet. The narrator remembers how she and her friend played a word-game to ward off earthquakes. She rattles off more trivia for may friend and they watch a movie together lying side by side while eating ice cream. May 09, Angela rated it it was amazing.

In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried

We believe in her fear, her love of life, and her psychological fragility. Dec 24, Tina Hayes rated it it was hempsl Shelves: The implication is that the fearful narrator took too long coming to the side of her dying friend and, once there, will not stay until the end.

The process of writing this story and dedicating it to her deceased friend can be said to be a catharsis for the author.