Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day Four: "Mortals" by Tobias Wolff


In this short story, Tobias Wolff gives the reader an obituary writer who loses his job after a "dead" man shows up at his newspaper with questions as to why the paper has declared him deceased. Turns out, the narrator hasn't checked his facts, done the research, and his willful blindness cost him a job that while not what he wanted, was better than nothing.

Couple the narrator's lack of concern with the undead man who is mysteriously curious about the way his obituary was worded and there is an irony to this story that is refreshing and that is not being pushed onto the reader. At its conclusion, the narrator passes a mime and throws some money at him, hoping to not be imitated. It's a poignant ending to a thoughtful story about the insecurities that plague us all in life and in the face of death.

I'll read more Wolff for sure.

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