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I have a two-year-old nephew, and he’s already somewhat disappointed with the world. He stands in front of televisions and microwaves and ovens, jabbing at the screens and doors with his little fingers, expecting something to happen. And there’s a good reason for that. It’s because he has grown up in a world with iPads and smart phones and VTech Learning Tablets, so to him, touchscreen technology is just a given. I’d actually feel sorry for him if it wasn’t so funny to watch.
The stories in this month’s Litro all, in some respects, deal with the adjustments we make when we’re growing up. They are filled with on the one hand with excitement and hope and dreams, but on the other, doubt, disappointment, and the revelation of a more mundane life ahead. The characters in these stories are between two spaces – in a liminal world of change, some just entering that stage, some closer to the edge.
The young Narrator of Gianna De Persiis Vona’s Disco Dave is literally speechless as she attempts to make sense of the adult world she’s fast growing up in; and while on the face of it, Tara Campbell’s How to Eat a Hot Dog is a witty take on childhood habits, I think its humor masks something darker – a sense of helpless inevitability. C Haigh MacNeil’s story, How To Be, is a beautifully quiet portrait of a young girl on the cusp of adulthood – whilst on holiday with her parents she finds herself pulled between two lives, only comfortable when she’s somewhere in between, floating between the waves. By way of contrast, in The Gypsum Paths, by David Mohan, a young man is driven to create his own space, free from the confines of the bikes trails he finds himself stuck on, as though the physical escape will somehow help him discover himself. Nick Kocz’s Golem Dust sees a young couple apparently creating something fantastic in the playground – though there is the suggestion that a far less magical future lies ahead; while in Faith and Flight by Tom Weller, an altar boy tries to convince his parents that he has witnessed a miracle, finding it a harder task than he had imagined. Finally, we bring you Shaun McMichael’s The Deepest Lake in All the World, the story of a young woman who finds herself lost in all senses of the word while on a road trip. And it’s this story that offers more in the way of light at the end of the tunnel – a knowledge that for all the expectations and limitations of this world, you are always your own person, and there is always more to discover.
So I hope my nephew isn’t too disappointed when he grows up. Because there will be countless other experiences and people and discoveries to surprise and delight him. And if I could just stop laughing, I’d tell him that.