In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried Summary. Amy Hempel The story ends with the friend being buried in Los Angeles, in a well-known cemetery. “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried” is a short fiction story by author Amy Hempel. It was first published in TriQuarterly magazine in , reprinted in. Tell me things I won’t mind forgetting,” she said. “Make it useless stuff or skip it.” I began. I told her insects fly through rain, mi For the short story reader. Updated.

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Author Biography Born December 14,in Chicago, Illinois, Amy Hempel moved to San Francisco as a teenager and attended several California colleges during an academic career that saw frequent interruptions. The setting is the California coast presumably in the Los Angeles area.

Alternately, the narrator uses humor as a form of denial, like when she reads an item from the newspaper about a man who robs a bank with a chicken. Hempel’s stories are often a glimpse into a moment of life.

I told her the shape of the moon is like a banana—you see it looking full, you’re seeing it end-on. We learn that it has taken the narrator more than two months to arrive at this bed side. Born December 14,in Chicago, Illinois, Amy Hempel moved to Hemple Francisco as a teenager and attended several California colleges during an academic career that saw frequent interruptions.

In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried

The parts left out are what give the story its emotional power. For the short story reader. In fact, many doctors purposely distance themselves from their patients not because they are buride or cold, but because of the pain such temporary and ultimately tragic relationships can inflict. The narrator proceeds to tell her best friend some “useless” trivia. At one point a doctor comes in to examine the ill friend and at his suggestion, the narrator goes for a walk on the beach, just outside the hospital–“off camera”.


She has said that it is the very first short story she wrote. However, since many critics view the minimalist style as outdated, this has put an unfavorable spin bempel her work.

In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried by Amy Hempel | Short Story Recommendation

Instead, she seems fixated on grotesque images, like earthquakes and a man who dies of fright after seeing his mutilated arm. Primary Source Reasons to Live. Minimalism has its uses, and can achieve surprisingly varied effects: The patient may then become angry, resenting others who enjoy good health and blaming doctors and relatives for their inability to help.

It played us to the nurses down the hall in Intensive Care. Hempel has compressed the narrative until every unnecessary and distracting detail has been squeezed out. Hempel continually strives la, and sometimes manages to find, the poetry and raw humor in meaninglessness.


She also finishes the story about the chimpanzee that her friend did not want to hear. The friend is interested in hearing about the first chimp that was trained to jolspn until the narrator warns her that the outcome is sad, at which point the friend commands her to stop the story.

Rushing to fill that void, a reader must project his ak meaning, or assume the presence of some meaning that eludes his grasp. The stories are less successful when we have to piece together the events from driblets and hints.


At its most reductive or repetitive, it can induce corresponding states of boredom or trance. Igoni Barrett, Belle Boggs, A. By telling her story anonymously, the narrator is able to relate details that she might otherwise hesitate to wmy.

I told her insects fly through rain, missing every drop, never getting wet. Her narrators are collectors of small, ironic tidbits, and Hempel seems to put forth the theory that the world is just a random assemblage of these trifles—some poignant, some beautiful, some amusing, but none deriving meaning from their hempwl.

Two months, and how long is the drive? Limbo seems like the only honest place to be in these stories. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works buriev list. Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this article. Her tales about insignificant things take on the aura of a performance.

She wants my life. Most of the stories in Reasons to Live open after a crisis to find the narrator standing, shell-shocked, amidst the rubble of her life. The decision to so willingly go for a walk is what does it for me.

“In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried”

But this brush with reality has, apparently, been xemetery much for the narrator. To her credit, Ms. But the narrator does not deepen her understanding.