The Night of the Satellite, Mr. T, and Richard Cory

Need caught up on my blog? I’m a gay 27 year old writer who decided to quit his job and start college. I also decided to read The Norton Introduction to Literature (Shorter 11th Edition) by Kelly J. Mays, word for word and blog about every story in it so that I can pretend that I’m a super literary person and talk about other authors at cocktail parties if I ever get a short story or novel published someday.

What a weekend! I spent halloween night in Washington DC getting blessed by a drunk preacher in a gay bar. I also went to see the movie Birdman, which was better than I thought it would be. When I got back, I read some poems from The Norton Introduction To Literature for my English 300 class. I also made some progress in the novel Cane, and read another short story from The Best American Series while I was on the plane coming back home.

My English 300 professor assigned a section of poems from the Norton book to read over the weekend. Included in this section was “Richard Cory”, a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson. I had read it before in anther class called “Enjoying Literature” that I took at another university before I transferred to the University of Louisville. It was one of the first poems we discussed from the section in class, and one that no one else in class seemed to understand very much or enjoy. I always liked the poem. I think the point of the poem is very simple; we don’t always know the circumstances that surround the lives of the people we see. The popular kid in school that seems to have it all might actually be a complete train wreck at home. Don’t envy people who you think have what you don’t have because they could very well put a bullet in their head the next day.

The professor seemed to love this poem, “Mr. T”, by Terrance Hayes, even though Mr. T was a bit before both my time and my professor’s. We discussed in class how it may or may not be a poem about the appreciation of celebrities, why we have them and why we admire certain individuals and not others. It’s also possible that I’m reading too much into it because I had to read it for class. If I hadn’t read it for class, I wouldn’t have even given a second thought about what it was about. I don’t even know much about Mr. T. I know that he’s black and that he wears a gold medallion, right? I just found out Terrance Hayes did a reading at the University of Louisville a few years ago. If only I’d gotten tired of working at Wal-Mart and quit my job to start college sooner.

As I was flying back to Louisville yesterday, I read another short story from The Best American Short Stories 2014 anthology, “The Night of the Satellite”, by T. C. Boyle. The narrator finds a strange piece of metal that falls from the sky, the wife doesn’t believe it’s a real piece from a satellite, he gets mad, grows bull horns, the whole shebang. I’m trying hard to figure out how this story made me feel. It wasn’t an awful read, and I liked parts of it, but the end didn’t really stick it to me I expected it to. I guess that’s not really a fair thing to say about a short story these days; there’s no rule that says the ending has to tie everything up in a perfect way, and there hopefully never will be.

By Eric Shay Howard

Eric Shay Howard lives in Louisville, Kentucky. He's the author of the fiction collection, Crushes, and is a literary editor. He also works at a law firm and is writing his second book. He's a graduate student in the Bluegrass Writers Studio MFA in Creative Writing program at Eastern Kentucky University.

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