December 15th, 2005

Uncle Nathan

There was a gleam of confidence in Uncle Nathan’s eye as he deftly took control of the conversation.

“That reminds me of something a character in, let me see, yes, my third novel had said.” He paused for emphasis.

His sister Mary chided gently. “Nathan, you haven’t even written a first novel.”

Uncle Nathan recovered quickly.

“Actually, I was referring to a series of short stories I wrote for the Atlantic. It was the second installment to last, and the hero had just…”

“You never wrote short stories for anyone. Not the Atlantic, not anyone!” Grandfather broke in crossly.

“Dad,” murmured Mary.

But Uncle Nathan was visibly shaken. “I … I, uh,” then strongly again, “Of course, poetry has always been my forte. I’m experimenting with a new form which…”

Again he was cut off, this time by cousin Jason.

“You,” he said evenly, “are no poet.”

“This is unhealthy!” Uncle Nathan cried, flinging his arms about wildly. “Repeating one fact over and over again – ‘You never wrote this, Nathan; You never wrote that, Nathan; You, Nathan, are no poet.’ You people are fixated!”

“But it is a fact, Nathan. You’ve never written anything,” leveled cousin Jason.

Uncle Nathan looked imploringly at every face in the room, then dropped his head. After a short, embarrassed moment he raised it again and managed an unsure grin.

“I’ve just been having you on. I – I’m not really a writer at all.”


-by Dave, a long time ago when we occasionally collaborated. I only wish I had come up with the character. Reprinted here with permission.

2 Comments on “Uncle Nathan”

  1. the obscure says:

    hmmm, perhaps it was the product that doomed that collaboration?

  2. JClark says:

    C'mon man, don't be like that. That was an interesting little slice of life. That's a totally legitimate format, for those who don't know. A story without a beginning or end, just a little slice out of the middle (thus slice of life). The intent is usually to get a quick gut reaction. To make someone chuckle or mist up a bit even as the logical parts of their mind tries to make sense of it. My theory is that the lack of a context forces your animal mind (right hemisphere, whatever you want to call it) to instinctively apply a context, your own, in order to derive meaning.

    I'd love to read more like this if you have them.

Leave a Reply