Kiese Laymon, “And So On” (McSweeney’s 49)
Kiese Laymon’s “And So On” is one of McSweeney’s 49’s cover stories, modeled after Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants.”
The story is structured around a wonderful, oblique, direct, cutting dialogue between Chanda Stewart and the narrator, two African American professors in a predominantly white college in Middletown, Massachusetts. They are roommates and have had sex once.
Chanda is a great character, forceful, blunt, loving, determined. She has been dating Doug E. Brovani, a 23-year-old juvenile delinquent who posts videos of himself having sex with white women. The narrator hates her for falling for Doug.
The beginning and the end of the story refer to this, and they are strange and cryptic. If the dialogue were the whole story, it would be brilliant. Sandwiched as it is by the enigmatic parts related to the campus revolt, it is a good story. I think it got out of the (talented) author’s hands, perhaps a form a protest against the typical structures of fiction.
Here's a good quote on when people are ready to hear advice: “you can’t tell some folks, no matter how brilliant they are, nothing they aren’t ready to hear” (p. 126).