The New Yorker’s reviewer of C.E. Morgan’s first novel, All the Living, wrote: “This lyrical tale of grief and gruelling love on a tobacco farm takes place in the mid-nineteen-eighties but, if not for glimpses of linoleum and double-wides, might recall an earlier time.”
If I’d read that before I launched into “Twins”, one of the longest stories in The New Yorker’s 20Under40 focus that I’ve read so far, I would have had a better idea of what to expect. Grief. Gruelling love.
Perhaps not the best reading material for a long commute home at the end of a draining workday. But C.E. Morgan’s characters took hold and I couldn’t stop myself from reading.
She says in her Q&A (which is here) that “The piece is from a book I’m working on. I saw a boy’s face in a film and the book idea came.”
It’s interesting that she answers this question (what inspired “Twins”) because in an Author Spotlight in January Magazine in 2009, she says that she’s never understood the question “What inspires you?”, but perhaps she’s just remembered that she’s a writer, so she can make up stuff, even if she doesn’t understand it.
“Twins” does feel like a search for answers, answers for questions that the twins haven’t even learned to pose yet. It’s a story about intimacy (and its absence) and the gaps left between hopes, about losses that haven’t been quantified yet.
It leaves you hanging, not in an edge-of-your-seat way, but in a way this-is-part-of-a-longer-work-way. But that’s okay with me. Because it’s a longer work that I would like to read.
Have you read All the Living? Or this short story?