Title: The Card
Author: George Seaton
Publisher: MLR Press
Characters: one unnamed son and his father
Sub-Genre: gay fiction
The dynamic between fathers and sons is complex, most often least understood by the players themselves. But is it the father who does not know his son, or is it the son who does not know his father?
The discovery of a Father’s Day card in a box—long ago shoved into a dark corner in a cellar—provides a revelation to a son, a gay son that shatters all previous conclusions about his father. Set in Denver, the ravages of a massive flood, and the disappearance of a nine-year-old girl, provide the background for a son’s coming of age, and a father’s eerie ability to “…read the hunch…,” that is essential to his prowess as a cop.
The Card, by George Seaton, is a short story which reads much more like an essay. This first person narrative is told in the voice of a middle-aged man who is in a long term gay relationship. He reminisces about his relationship with his father who was a police detective in Denver, and although he admired his dad, the two were never particularly close.
When he was fifteen, he presented his dad with a Father’s Day card in which he dared to convey his feelings about how proud he was of the man. It was the only card he ever gave his father, and he ended up saving it.
Now, several decades later, he finds the card amongst some boxes of memorabilia he’s stored in his basement, and it brings back a flood of memories. He reflects upon the period of his life when he gave the card to his dad, and what he feels it meant to both of them.
This short story was a quick read but very gripping. Gay men often worry, perhaps more than they should, about making their father’s proud. Whether this is low self-esteem, internal homophobia, or merely egotism, I’m not sure, but it’s a very powerful and emotional issue for many of us. I very much related to the storyteller, and I feel the depth of his emotion was conveyed in a poignant and realistic manner that deeply touched my heart.
I look forward to reading more from this author.
Reviewed By: Jeff