‘In The Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried’ by Amy Hempel

A story about a friendship between two women, one of who is terminally ill. One of my favourite things about Hempel’s story is how the location of Southern California is a character in and of itself, the chance of earthquake ever-present, the detail about the glass of water at the end becoming, for me, the most moving moment in the story. This story gives you only the barest essentials with which to interpret the feelings of grief and loss that pulse through the story, threaded through with Hollywood dread, a perfect elegy for a lost friend. 

Originally published in TriQuarterly Magazine, 1983, included in the collection Reasons To Live, 1985, Harper Collins. Read it online here

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