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The Life of Caliph Washington

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The Invisible Man

Posted on May 9, 2012
Mr. Fish

(Page 3)

When Eddie’s picture was moved in 2008 from the municipal building at town hall to the lobby of the firehouse and put into a long glass case with other veterans who had been blown to smithereens in more recent wars, I went to go see it. What surprised me about seeing the photograph for the first time in 35 years wasn’t how much smaller it was than I remembered, but rather the extended family that my great-uncle was now fraternizing with, all of them orbiting a giant-sized framed photo of George W. Bush standing at Ground Zero with a megaphone. I thought about how peculiar it was that all the soldiers were smiling, particularly when there was so much more room in the lobby for the construction of more and more glass cases.

Walking around and looking at the crowd of fallen heroes before me, I started to cry. Not because I was overcome suddenly by the tragedy of their meaningless passing, but rather because I couldn’t stop thinking about the sad golfer, who was not my grandfather, standing all alone not 10 miles away in a basin of clear rainwater for anybody who cared to notice.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, May 10, 2012 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

Mr. Fish is the glory of Truthdig.

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By Mekhong Kurt, May 10, 2012 at 1:19 am Link to this comment

Commentator jimmmmmy has already said that this piece reminds him of Vonnegut—good call.

I was more reminded of the Southern literary tradition of the American Gothic, arguably best exemplified in to works of Flannery O’Connor (“A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” “Wise Blood,” etc.). I think the word “mellifluousness” cemented that in my mind; it’s always struck me as a “Southern” word, a genteel one.

Curiously, perhaps, I also felt some of the pathos I felt on first reading one of James Joyce’s epiphanies—I don’t recall which, so would have to read through them to give the title to the specif one to which I’m referring, but those familiar with his works will get the sense of what I mean. In fact, “Mr. Fish: The Invisible Man” could easily be seen as a fictional short story instead of an essay to just about anyone approaching it unaware. (I *am* taking it to be a factual essay, not a short story, though I could be wrong, of course.)

In any case, this is one of the best essays (or short stories, as the case ay be) I’ve read in a very long time. And I have a feeling it will we stay with me for many years to come.

Well done. (If I were still teaching, I would give this work a “A” without a moment’s thought. Then add a bunch of commentary filled with superlatives.)

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By John Poole, May 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wonderful! Thank you. A mix of chuckles and then a somber reflective moment.
Hang in there! I’m a transplanted Californian to Ardmore, PA. circa 1975. Don’t

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By jr., May 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

Wow!  Mr. Fish, You are as great a writer as you are an artist.  Thanks for the story and picture.  Salutations and Greetings, Yours, r

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Billy Pilgrim's avatar

By Billy Pilgrim, May 9, 2012 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

So it…

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By jimmmmmy, May 9, 2012 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

Very good read ,almost Vonnegut, in it’s sadness, angst, and ridiculousness.

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