Dagoberto Gilb (author); BEFORE THE END, AFTER THE BEGINNING; Grove Press () $24.00 ISBN: 9780802120007
Byline: S. Hope Mills
The quote is well-worn: "It's the journey that matters." Dagoberto Gilb's appropriately titled new collection -- Before the End, After the Beginning -- gives us ten such adventures. And Gilb should know a thing or two about journeys, having written most of these stories over the months he recovered after a stroke.
"please, thank you," the first in the collection, is the story of a man in the hospital crawling back to life after a stroke. The grammar itself takes a most basic form -- no capital letters, no apostrophes. The narrator's perspective, as a stroke victim, is reliably unreliable: "so i started not answering, ignoring them back, or yelling at them. maybe yelling is what I was doing in my mind. maybe muttering under my breath is what I did." Over the course of the story, the narrator moves from intensive care to a shared room to various therapies -- all preparing for a return home, which is both a relief and a realization: "i am a name, just another, one they think is foreign even, when there are so many hurting. a process of recovery that is simply what happens within hospital walls: i want to say thank you to all of them, even though theyd forget in sixty seconds. were all moving onward. tomorrow someone else is here."
The collection ends with "Hacia...