Language Barrier by Thomas Cooper

24 Dec

Matt Bell’s blog and I certainly have no language barrier, as he always points me in the direction of some fantastic work. Like the new and 30th (!) issue of SmokeLong Quarterly.

This story, “Language Barrier” by Thomas Cooper, is one I’ve already read three times: for the conflict, for the off-the-page stuff, for the ending. I love how the title is both the major source of conflict and the final realization of the narrator, making the piece fit together so well. MY GOODNESS THE PAIN IN JORGE’S SPEECHLESSNESS! I’m thinking about that character and his pain and his lack of resolution. I’m thinking this story is one to stick with me.

See if it means anything to you:

I’m avoiding Jorge, the man without the tongue. In the kitchen, he slouches on the counter next to the wet bar, checkered flatcap pulled low over his eyes. When I glance over, he’s watching me, making shapes with his hands. For the past five years he’s come up at the stroke of midnight and wrapped me in his arms, like we’re kindred spirits. Brethren. Tonight he’s staring at me as if he wants to repeat history, but I’m not going to let it happen.

An interview with Thomas Cooper about the story.

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