Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Weights and Measures" by Jodi Picoult

Easily the most poignant and touching of the stories in Stories to this point.

"Weights and Measures" tells the story of Abe and Sarah (yes, like in the Bible) following the death of their daughter.

As usual, only more so this time, I hesitate to reveal much of anything. Frankly, the story is wonderful. It's heartfelt and deeply sympathetic. Picoult portrays the loss of a child as though she had experienced it herself. Perhaps it's not so hard to conjure those feelings of loss and grief if one has something to love deeply. Perhaps a parent has no trouble at all imagining what kind of devastation would result in the death of one's child.

So I figure either Picoult is a parent, has lost a child (God forbid), or is just that bad ass of a writer.

In any case, the title and story cleverly relate in a way, somewhat like "The Stars are Falling," which I reviewed here a couple of weeks ago. Here, the fantastic elements of this story tie intimately to the loss of the daughter, as does the title. The beauty of the story is that the death of the child physically manifests itself in the parents. Ultimately they embody their loss.

I'm not sure that this is the best writing. But it does fit Elmore Leonard's rule, "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." "Weights and Measures" does not sound like writing. It's simple, elegant in places, gentle, but persistent, and quite touching.

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