In Ezra’s “Weekend With the Boy,” one of Carve’s fall 2007 issue offerings, we meet an Australian painter, our narrator, dutifully married to his art. He has high-minded ideas about art, speaking of a “stream of timelessness out of which every great work of art…springs,” and to which everything else is secondary.
But when a love child is suddenly spurred onto him by a quondam American lover for a weekend visit, he is forced to reconsider that aforementioned marriage to his art. To entertain eleven-year-old Joe at his place is one thing, but will he also allow the boy a space in his life?
This is the main question that hangs in the background throughout the story, and the road to the answer, though not laden with big coups de théâtre awash in sentimentality or high drama, offers a journey of quietly humorous delight to the reader.
Of particular note is the first-person narration. There is only so far a bombastic voice can go until a reader deems it unlikeable, and our author never takes his narrator to that edge. The father speaks with a forced eloquence tinged with occasional vulgarity. “I use words larger than what I normally use,” he admits at one point. “I grope more in the darkness than in the light of language.” Fatherhood being to him terra incognita, the narrator’s frequent expoundings on art to his son yields particularly funny one-line responses from the boy (when asked for his opinion, Joe reliably repeats an awkwardly eked out “Good”), both as comic defusion and deflation for his father’s pretentions.
At times ruminative, the story never treads on cynical ground, but instead relies on the more solid stuff of storytelling with tenderness and tounge in cheek. Overall, an accessible and thoroughly pleasing story.
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