Review: “The New Yorker” February 13 & 20, 2012 Fiction

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“Citizen Conn” by Michael Chabon

Enjoyable read, told in Chabon’s usually entertaining and accessible comic-book-nerdy style.

A rabbi at an assisted living facility (our narrator) finds herself mediating a long-standing chill in relations between two former creative partners, Morty Feather and Artie Conn, legends in the comic book world. The story goes that the latter had long ago essentially sold out their partnership, and with it any royalties they may have received. Atoning for his past misdeed–precipitated by Morty’s impending death–Artie makes earnest, but ultimately misguided, attempts at reconciling with his former friend. It’s a commonplace turmoil in relationships–one party clueless about any wrongdoing on his part (and when making amends, grasping for the wrong clues), while the other feels it unnecessary to have to drop any clues. Though in this case, Morty does leave behind, albeit postmortem, a clue–an explanation tragically lost on Artie. Artie glosses over the real reason behind his deceased friend’s anger, not because he chooses to but just because he can’t perceive it. He never understands the epiphany spelled out for us by our narrator–that it was not the fortune but rather his friendship that Morty felt Artie had thrown away.

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