In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is BuriedAmy Hempel Author BiographyPlot Born December 14, , in Chicago, Illinois, Amy Hempel moved to San. Tell me things I won’t mind forgetting,” she said. “Make it useless stuff or skip it.” I began. I told her insects fly through rain, mi For the short story reader. Updated. Amy Hempel’s In The cemetery Where Al Jolsen is Buried is a moving story of a woman living through the death of her best friend from a terminal illness.

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There are no truths, there is no meaning to life, there is only death at the end, so what could possibly matter?

Vocabulary from “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” by Amy Hempel

Alternately, the narrator uses humor as a form of denial, like when she reads an item from the newspaper about a man who robs a bank with a chicken.

The patient may then become angry, resenting others who enjoy good health and blaming doctors and relatives for their inability to help. Hepmel found that many dying patients are comforted if someone sits and listens to their openly expressed fears and thoughts. In this story, the narrator uses black humor in an effort to ease her fear of death. I noted these gestures as hemoel happened, not in any retrospect —though I don’t know why looking back should show us more than looking at.

Her stories have been translated into twelve languages and anthologized in the United States and several other countries.

Aamy substitution here of trivia for what is real renders the story the ideal minimalist marriage of form and content: They talk about inconsequential things, bantering, but then her friend says that there “is a real and present need here.

If there’s a better short story ever written, I’ve yet to read it. Jun 21, SherwoodDemon rated it liked it Shelves: The camera made me self-conscious and I stopped. But this brush with reality has, apparently, been too much for the narrator.


In The Cemetery Where Al Jolsen is Buried by Amy Hempel

The most loathsome amt in the story comes at the end when she tells the story of the birth of a baby to that other liar, the talking chimp. There are other misses here and there, gags that fall flat. Sign up, it’s free! But the narrator does not deepen her understanding.

For her I would always have something else.

Addressing the death in this fashion allows her to avoid acknowledging that her friend has died: The doctor enters the hospital room and the friend flirts with him.

Deciding to become a writer, she settled in New York City and attended Columbia University where her creative writing instructor was Gordon Lish, a noted novelist, short story writer, and editor. In the final stage of acceptance, the patient may still be fearful and angry but is now prepared to the with peace and dignity. One story is as good as another. Cemeteryy also finishes the story about the chimpanzee that her friend did not want to hear.


However, her fear of death permeates her actions and thoughts while with her friend. Hemoel, in fact, becomes all she can do, the only way she can think. Heartbreaking and hits a little too closely to truth. I am not yet sure if this a success or a failing of the story.

Quotes from In The Cemetery W Once out of that room, I would drive it too fast down the Coast highway through the crab-smelling air. Suntan oil cemeterh sand and surgical masks and oxygen tubes exist all in the same world, and part of the maturation process is understanding how this can be so. Now she has overcome that weakness, but only to the degree that she can joke with her friend; a real meaningful connection between them never takes place.


There is no reason to think or feel deeply about anything. But she was a mother, so I guess she had her reasons. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Robert Peltier is an English instructor at Trinity College and has published works of both fiction and nonfiction.

Knopf Canada,pp. We believe in her fear, her love of life, and her psychological fragility. Her tales about insignificant things take on the aura of a performance. At its worst, minimalism is a kind of fraudulent tic that serves to hide a vacuum or defend against feeling. Their communication remains superficial; it would be too dangerous otherwise. Not a happy short story. The only fear that she admits to having is a fear of flying.

Whether you’re a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.

Jun 23, Elysa rated it it was amazing Shelves: Igoni Barrett, Belle Boggs, A. Jun 09, Neyly rated it it was amazing. In the denial stage, the patient refuses to recognize reality and acts as if the disease does not exist. I had my audience. Born December 14,in Chicago, Illinois, Amy Hempel moved to San Francisco as a teenager and attended several California colleges during an academic career that saw frequent interruptions. The narrator in this story has not been able to bring herself to visit her best friend in the hospital for two months; her fear has been stronger than her sense of decency.

Hempel has compressed the narrative until every unnecessary and distracting detail has been squeezed out.