Uncategorized | February 07, 2004

While perusing Fusion, the most recent issue of The Missouri Review, I came across the story “Emeritus” by Jill Marquis. I laughed as I read the adventures of a research assistant and an absent-minded elderly professor emeritus in a white 17-foot-long truck.

The situation in this case was a “freaking code red,” where pedestrians loiter carelessly in the street, soon-to-be victims of the professor’s chaotic driving while loose pieces of fabricated metal clatter around inside the back of the truck.

Another passage describing a professor’s research on provocative motion is a testament to the story’s humor in its detailed descriptions. Eight times a day a subject ascends onto a contraption and spends a half hour standing there holding a baton horizontally as a contraption simulates degrees of freedom, or motion, beneath them. I’m amused picturing these nauseated subjects attempting this ridiculous-looking feat in the name of seasickness research. Likewise, other descriptions – the bizarrely dressed professor climbing into a truck and losing his loafer, or the research assistant bouncing around on the professor’s mini-trampoline, her own experiment in motion sickness – made me smile.

I’m reminded of times when going through stacks of manuscript submissions, I stumble upon laugh-out-loud funny, though not-so-well-written pieces. Despite shortcomings, their wit influenced me to comment on the rejection notes to please try us again in the future with another story.

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