We’ve all got those nicknames (see mine: Gob, “T,” Tyster) that stem from our names, but as we grow beards or get jobs, we still can’t seem to shed.
In this story, published in Smokelong Weekly, I dig how Hirsch takes this simple everyday gripe and twists it to talk about a bigger issue. Add in the famous history that unravels about this story’s protagonist, and I think we’ve got ourselves something cool to think about.
I’m thinking about how the progression in talking about each unsatisfying nickname, along with the anecdote attached, allows for a rise in action to the conflict and inner turmoil of the character, which ends with the Amelia captured in American history. Yes, I’m thinking this story pops when all that adds up to the character’s true, simple desire: “Amelia is what she really wants to be called.” I’m thinking this story rules because it’s deep in emotions getting to what we all want to say: call me by my freaking name.
The opening is something beautiful for sure, starting with so much personal characterization, even in the third person:
Amelia hates it when people call her Amy. Amy is her mother’s name, she tells them, and her grandmother’s name. And she is nothing like them. She is educated. She is a career woman. She wears pants and a leather jacket and has short hair because she is a flyer. And Amy and Amy? They are helpless wives of alcoholics, dragging their children behind them like designer luggage through the clatter of empty whiskey bottles.