Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Marshall Boswell Goes Nuclear

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 4:55 PM

As in: "nuclear" family in a short story called "Father Figure." It appears in the inaugural issue of the literary magazine The Rome Review (out of Washington, D.C.; real nice website; check it out), but it appears that your standard nuclear family ain't what it was.

True, in "Father Figure," there's a father, but he's no longer married to the woman who's the mother of their two children. When the story opens, those kids are arriving in Memphis for an extended stay with their father, who lives in Midtown. The son, age 17, barely says a word — glares is more like it when his father tries to engage him in conversation, stares is more like it when the boy is sitting glued to the set — the TV set, which, during the first few days of this visit, runs nonstop (and that includes the latest paternity battles on Maury Povich's trash TV talk show).

The younger sister, though, is more forthcoming — and understanding — beneath her Goth exterior. She doesn't seem bothered (or is she?) by the fact that her father is now in love and living with a man who is 15 years his junior, which may or may not be a problem for everybody involved: ex-husband, ex-wife, two children, and a guy who maybe missing the club scene, gay division. The problem here, definitely: the arrival of the son's girlfriend with some news. That's not all that's a problem, though. Read "Father Figure" to find out.

And to find out some background on the story, here's Marshall Boswell, the author and associate professor in the English Department at Rhodes College, in his own words — on "Father Figure" in particular and the art of the short story in general:

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