Monday, November 27, 2017

The Town of Normal

Opened up 'Welcome To Normal' (2012) by Nick Earls for a read. Had read his 2016 'Wisdom Tree' of five novellas and enjoyed them. I understand this is part of a short story collection, but I didn't bother with the rest. Bought this little novella for 99c. Hurhurhur. (Reviews here and here.)

So Normal is the name of a town in Illinois, 209km from Chicago. It is a real town, home to the main campus of Illinois State University. Narrator Craig (from Brisbane) and his boss Martin are visiting the United States to inspect mining equipment. They visit with Martin's old college friend Don and his wife Jennifer, who live in Normal. The visitors stay a night in Don and Jennifer's house.

Nothing much went on. Uneventful. Just a night out at a baseball game revisiting old days for Martin and Don, and getting drunk. Meanwhile Jennifer takes Craig around town for a quick tour. The mundane-ness of the going-ons tell us a fair bit about relationship dynamics between these four people. The author is pretty good at describing the little details of living, emotions and leaving readers to assume and read between the lines. Great use and choice of the town 'Normal'. Normal, is certainly relative. We can easily relate that back to our lives. So many things are actually happening when we assume nothing is going on.

He gave her a Hitler salute with his foam hand, and stuck his left index finger stiffly under his nose to remove any ambiguity, of which there already wasn't much. Martin laughed and they made a clumsy go of another high-five. 
And we drove laps, around and around the circuit Jennifer had taken me on earlier, with Don and Martin treating the Camelback Bridge like a three-second rollercoaster ride and calling out joyous drunken non sequiturs to the rare pedestrian lucky enough to be out in the cold and to come into range. 

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