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In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried Summary. Amy Hempel The story ends with the friend being buried in Los Angeles, in a well-known cemetery. “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried” is a short fiction story by author Amy Hempel. It was first published in TriQuarterly magazine in , reprinted in. Tell me things I won’t mind forgetting,” she said. “Make it useless stuff or skip it.” I began. I told her insects fly through rain, mi For the short story reader. Updated.

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This pathetic weakness has kept her from comforting a person who is dying, a person who is supposedly her closest friend.

Summary The setting is the California coast presumably in the Los Angeles area. Notice how nervous the narrator gets when she realizes that there is a camera focused on her a,y her friend. She says she doesn’t understand the giddyness of her ill friend. She will not stay the night.

Robert Peltier is an English instructor at Trinity College and has published works of both fiction and nonfiction. Eleanor Wachtel, a noted Canadian radio-journalist, perceives. Our newest weekly issues.

The narrator alludes to the irony in this, but seems incapable of understanding it. Suntan oil and sand and surgical masks and oxygen tubes exist all in the same world, and part of the maturation process is understanding how this can be so. The danger that springs from this kind of thinking is obvious in this story and, for that matter, in much of the world it reflects. Her narrators are collectors of small, ironic tidbits, and Hempel seems to put forth the theory that the world is just a random assemblage of these trifles—some poignant, some beautiful, some amusing, but none deriving meaning from their arrangement.


The danger is that we exist in a world that is precarious in its lack of real compassion and fueled by a fear of all that is not material. Didion uses the agglomeration of concrete details to much the same end, but manages to infuse the hmepel themselves with a simultaneous wonder and irony, to convince the reader that everything she describes, from a hydraulic power plant to a waiter in Zipaquira, Colombia, is a singular phenomenon with its own cemeterg of lore.

Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Read a Short: In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried by Amy Hempel

Minimalism has its uses, and can achieve surprisingly varied effects: Born December 14,in Chicago, Illinois, Amy Hempel moved jolaon San Francisco as a teenager and attended several California colleges during an academic career that saw frequent interruptions. In fact, the danger springs from forgiving: The dying friend, who has always been fearless, is afraid to die alone. That when they asked her who did it on the desk, she signed back the name of the janitor.

She is a minimalist writer who is often compared to Raymond Carver. For me, it’s an emotional change that comes with the narrator leaving more guilty than she came and running away, still afraid, after looking.

“In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried”

The writing here is terse; much is left out. There is nothing wrong with humor, but when that humor acts as a curtain behind which deeper feelings are hidden and kept from influencing decent behavior, then that humor can be harmful.


A parable is a story that teaches a lesson. Retrieved December 31, from Encyclopedia. For Hempel, the answer is obvious. The narrator reminisces specific moments of their friendship, each revealing something more about the narrator’s fears and their relationship. The stories are less successful when we have to piece together the events from driblets and hints.

The truth of this trivia is not important because truth is merely an irrelevant abstraction in the face of death. She tells a story of a story that was told to her—a tale now twice removed from reality—about a man who was frightened to death by the grossness of an injury he received in a car wreck.

By telling her story anonymously, the narrator is able to relate details that she might otherwise hesitate to reveal. She wants my life. Even though the tale does not pertain directly to her dying friend, it symbolizes how obsessed with death the narrator is. Limbo seems like the only honest place to be in these stories. They take place in earthquake and landslide country, where stability is revealed to be a necessary delusion.

Hempel has compressed the narrative until every unnecessary and distracting detail has been squeezed out. The other stories, too. But the narrator does not deepen her understanding.

I told her insects fly through rain, missing every drop, never getting wet.