Friday, January 16, 2009

Alembical: "Harvest"

The third story in Alembical is from James Van Pelt, "Harvest". The story opens with the lines,
I bought Neil Young's Harvest CD on Friday, the day Merle Meecham killed both his parents. It was a mistake.

The narrator goes on to discuss why the mistake was purchasing the CD, not the Meecham boy murdering his parents. The killing almost feels like afterthought, except that the murder puts the reader on alert to stick through the mundanity.

"Harvest" follows Graham (our narrator, first person perspective) and his two friends, Linda and Rachel, as they discuss the killing just like everyone else in school. The friends talk about it and we get a sense of the town and of Merle. Linda is a Christian, Rachel a bit of a pagan with an interest in seances and contacting the dead.

There is not a strong supernatural element to the story, though it does crop up briefly a couple of times.

I wonder if a working knowledge of Neil Young's music and the song "Harvest" in particular would not add an extra layer of resonance to the story. It might. I don't have that knowledge, so i can't say for sure.

Regardless, "Harvest" meanders into Graham doing his own investigation of what happened to Merle and why that boy who was briefly was Graham's friend killed his parents. Everything in the story feels appropriate, that these are things real teenagers might do. "Harvest" comes across as authentic and compelling. Readers will want to know what happens next and readers will care about Graham and his friendships. At least, I did.

Mr. Van Pelt does an excellent job telling this story. It may not quite reach the heights of "America, Such as She Is", but it is easily the second best story in Alembical.


Adele said...

great review.

Joe said...

Thanks. Some stories are harder to write about then others (like the next and final Alembical story...), and others I just can't.

So, I'm glad you liked this one.

Jim Van Pelt said...

Hi, Joe. I saw that you were reviewing Alembical, and I was anxious to see your reaction. Thanks for your thoughtful post.

Joe said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Van Pelt. I enjoyed "Harvest". I think it's the first thing of yours that I've read.