Commentary #20 (of 28): GENEVA STREET

Commentary Pic #100Every so often (weekly at the moment), I’ll be writing a commentary about a story from EMPTY ROOMS LONELY COUNTRIES. I’ll tackle the stories in the order they appear in the book. Given the nature of this exercise, I cannot guarantee that I won’t spoil specific details from the story. So you may want to return to the commentaries here when you’ve finished reading the book. If I don’t address an aspect of the story you were interested in, by all means leave a question at the end of this post and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Geneva Street”

I keep coming back to this story when people ask which one is my favorite from the book. This story has been through a few drafts over the years, and the story that it finally became is one that makes me extremely proud.

The original intent of the story was to play off the stories my father told me growing up and to reconcile those with my experiences at the house on Geneva Street. Yes, the house is real. In fact, everything in this story is true:

As far as I know, the house on Geneva Street is still there. Whether it still stands or not is irrelevant, because it still exists in my dreams, looking down at me as I approach with its dark windows, its archway frowning, its foundation absorbing my shadow.

My father used to live in it when he was a child. My aunt – my father’s sister – lived in the house when I was young. There are a lot of memories with the house. My memory blurs with my father’s. He’ll tell a story about something he did at the house when he was a child and I’ll think, that was me, wasn’t it? It was me who left pennies on the railroad that ran behind the house. It was me who rode the bicycle down the hill towards the railroad and hurt myself. It was me who woke when a train passed at midnight and wondered if a drifter would crawl through my open window.

What the story has become is something else completely different, and a lot of that hinges on the final scene and that final line. Out of all the stories in the book, I get the most questions about this one. I’ve heard a couple of different interpretations and I haven’t really commented on them. I feel it’s really important for “Geneva Street” to stand on its own.

I will say this, however. It’s no accident that the story is available in Empty Rooms Lonely Countries, and the placement of the story is as important to the overall narrative of the book as that final line.

And yes, I still have dreams of the house on Geneva Street.

I’ll probably post the whole story here next week.

NEXT TIME: “Ghost Track”

Previous commentaries:Commentary Cover

#1 “Cowboys and Indians”
#2 “Little Conundrums”
#2.5 “Playing With the Dead”**
#3 “The Illusion of Swing”
#4 “Kicking Love’s Ass”
#5 “On Being Velma-less”
#6 “Muted Porn”
#7 “Defying Gravity”
#8 “The Fifth Ocean”
#9 “One Dead (Potted) Plant”
#10 “Remembering Drajra”
#10.5 “Masks”
#11 “Pancakes, Wishes and Other Tales”
#12 “Maintaining”
#13 “Before Waking”
#14 “Re:Flux”
#15 “This is Not for You”
#16 “The Mariachi”
#17 “$24.99”
#18 “Paying the Tab”
#19 “Father Groove”