THE NEW MIDDLE CLASS | Dolan Morgan.
⇒Today we’re going to do something a little bit different. The topic of today’s conversation, “The New Middle Class” by Dolan Morgan, published in Midnight Breakfast, is unique in that the story swerves dramatically about six paragraphs in.
As a general policy on Fiction_Feed, I don’t like to include spoilers. In general, the review/commentary/craft-discussion things we publish here are meant to be something a person can read before beginning the story. To this end, I write around major late-stage plot points and such developments in an effort to preserve the thrill of discovery for the reader.
But because there’s no getting around spoilers when talking about today’s short fiction, I’m going to ask that you go and read the story right now, with the promise that you will return when finished so we can pick up the discussion without fear of spoilers.
Okay! Welcome back.
This piece was crazy, am I right?
I’ve never quite read anything like it. I really enjoyed (while being kind of revolted by) the whole resurrection-via-parasitic-offspring premise, which is vividly enacted and wonderfully grotesque. Even though the language of Amy’s narrative section is pretty casual and informal, the level of authenticity her/the author’s language instills in the Replacement’s initial emergence is incredibly impressive. Here’s one of my favorite parts of the story:
The Replacement is at once like a large tongue and a hard, knotted root. I know it’s a natural part of Michael’s body, inasmuch as death is a part of any body, but I can’t conceive its humanity. A wet winter branch teasing through a hole in the fence. It projects from Michael’s side, half in half out, and turns toward the light.
Wow. And to think this piece started out as a run-of-the-mill cancer story.
I’m not going to get caught up in trying to define or categorize this piece. Some of my favorite stories are of the genre-bending variety, and this piece clearly slips between any convenient Barnes and Noble categories. I marked it as magical realism, but that’s not quite right, not really, even though the piece certainly amplifies nature by repurposing natural processes and exhibiting them on a human scale.
I suppose many readers, perhaps rightfully, will see this piece as allegorical, the Replacement and his role as the unwanted parasite/inheritor of someone else’s existence serving as proxy for a whole bunch of human considerations:
- evolution, reproduction, and the sustainability of human life and human identity (maybe?)
- loss, from an emotional standpoint, and the basic irreplaceability of one’s significant other (or the inability to let go)
- the overall question of what the hell’s the difference between evolution and de-evolution, really, I mean when we get right down to it.
Yeah, so we can get all Lit-Crit-y about this piece and that is fine, but I think I prefer to enjoy this story simply for what it is: as a weird, grotesque, tragicomic glimpse into one hell of a troubled relationship. May favorite kind.