In Will Christoper Baer’s short story, “Seizure,” Emma is a seizure prone eighteen year old who lives in a halfway house and is in a secret relationship with the cook, Seth. While they are having sex one day, the owner of the house, Mary, walks in on them and Seth loses his job, but because Emma is a legal adult, no charges can be pressed and he is just fired. Seth writes Emma that he’s going to pick her up on her nineteenth birthday, so she listens for him and they sneak out on his motorcycle while deciding to skip town. Emma has to go to the bathroom and Seth wants to pick up some cigarettes, so they stop at a bar called Sweet’s. After she goes to the bathroom and they head back out to his bike, they find that one of Seth’s “friends” that he owes money to, Oz, has taken the bike and offered them a ride. On the ride, Oz shows interest in Emma, especially when Seth steps out to buy them beer. While Seth is still in the gas station, Oz takes most of Emma’s seizure pills. Later, Oz suggests they go to New Orleans together instead of Seth and Emma’s original plan of going to the West Coast, but Seth attempts to shoot this idea down. Oz, now drunk, stops at an older woman named Lou’s house to buy some blow for their drive. In Lou’s house, they participate in some small talk before Emma begins to feel dizzy and has a seizure. Lou gives her a tender bath until they hear yelling from Seth and Oz. Emma runs out to see Oz stabbed in the neck because he wanted Seth’s money. They take him to a hospital and a cop questions Seth about why he stabbed Oz. Seth says they were fighting over Emma and he goes to jail.
Simultaneously throughout the piece, Seth is sending Emma letters from jail and describes the other prisoners, how much he misses her, a man named Elvis who wants to have sex with him (even after they got into a fist fight), his friend named Kool, and a white guy who never showers. Despite this, he still promises that he’s okay and asks her to bring cigarettes if she ever visits him.
I saw the chronic tension being Emma’s seizures and the acute being Oz attempting to steal all of Seth’s money, but I’m not sure where the issues with the prisoners fits into these categories since it’s in the future – any ideas?
One thing I hope to imitate from this piece is playing around with conventional structures, like how Baer did by not adding quotations for dialogue. To me, it felt like an oral story without the dialogue tags, but did anyone else find that effective or was it too confusing without quotations?
One of the things I highlighted was sensuous strokes because although there wasn’t a lot extremely vivid imagery, I did feel like we learned a large amount about the characters through the small details (like wondering if Lou had children just because of her breasts).
At the end of the piece, it’s not totally clear as to what they were actually fighting about (whether it was Emma, money, or something else), so I was wondering what everyone thought their fight was about and why they had unbuckled pants?
Overall, this piece is really unique in its structure with the letters, short paragraphs, and lack of quotations for dialogues. I really enjoyed this new form because it keeps the reader awake and it distinguishes it from other pieces of work.