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New Yorker Fiction Review #146: "Three Short Moments in a Long Life" by John L'Heureux

Issue: May 9, 2016

Story: "Three Short Moments in a Long Life" by John L'Heureux

Rating: $

Review: I feel like this is a somewhat tired technique, straight out of Creative Writing 101: write a story consisting of three or four different snapshots or snippets out of a character's life at different ages, sort of like a series of written photographs. Fun perhaps, but strikes me as a bit amateurish. However, I also think L'Heureux succeeds here by pushing it a bit further, playing with the character's tentative attempts at something close to faith -- in childish, adult, and mature adult ways -- and tying all three "Short Moments" together in a subtle and readily decipherable way.

L'Heureux's prose and his frank humor and his ability to glorify and find the meaning in the mundane events and thoughts of every day life, and thereby turn the life of an ordinary person into a drama with meaning and significance puts me in mind of John Irving. As well as the sort of avuncular way he seems to care for his characters and find their faults their most endearing traits.

This story's strength is definitely in its tenderness and in the subtle yet very strong threads that tie all three short moments together. Another of this story's strengths is that, for impatient readers like me (with self-diagnosed Fiction ADD), the format kept me fully engaged and intent on reading more, even when his writing tended to slow down a bit; no matter whether or not it was boring at times (and it was)  I knew the next snippet could not be far away...

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