The Puglilist at Rest ~ Thom Jones

I came across this story in my Joyce Carol Oates anthology, but you can read it for yourself at

The Pugilist at Rest is partly inspired by the sculpture Boxer at Rest. A Vietnam-era Maine with a penchant for violence is packing up his memorabilia as he prepares for experimental brain surgery to cure his left lobe epilepsy. Jones lets us get to know the character slowly, quietly. We see him as a recruit, then as a Marine at war, and the changes made as he progresses. The character’s growth is portrayed skillfully; it’s a slow growth, more like the growth of a tree rather than a tomato plant. The story is told through objects that ground it: a letter, a rifle, a pile of gun parts, an old uniform. The character cares about some, hates others, and only late in the story do we even learn that he has a family. And service dogs. As I think about the story, I can see that if we knew about the sister and the dogs earlier, it would change the view of the character. We have to see him as a Marine first because you can take the Marine out of the corps, but you can’t take the Corps out of the Marine. 

This month I am participating in the A to Z blog challenge.

The challenge involves 26 posts in April, all somehow connected to the alphabet. My theme for the month is short stories. The Story Factory needs market research, of course, so I will be reading a short story for each letter of the alphabet and trying to learn some new techniques for my story writing. My lacks seem to be characterization and emotional experience, so I am mainly looking for stories to teach me those things. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments if you know of an amazing story. Another component of the challenge is the blog road trip, where we visit each other’s blogs, leave comments, etc. While I would like to visit a couple of blogs every day, it is more realistic to do Road Trips on Sundays. (Of course, my ongoing, 52 bad story challenge is still on, as well as the 2021 creative hours in 2021.