These are the questions posed in Uncle, by Albert van der Steeg. His main character, a child, cannot understand his uncle’s strange behavior, nor why his father and aunt are so distressed about it.
Uncle is a very short read that touches on some very heavy issues, issues that children are not equipped to deal with. Reading more like a journal entry than a short story, the reader wonders if this is, in fact, a short memoir or essay piece. Regardless, Albert does a great job describing the discomfort and sadness experienced while being in the presence of a loved one suffering from mental illness. Understanding is difficult for children. Decision making is difficult for adults. And then there is the person suffering.
The story is a bit choppy, and I can’t figure out if it’s because the story mostly takes place from the point of view of a child, or perhaps because something was lost in the story’s translation. I would have liked to see details of the evening’s events as well as the aftermath broadened. I also think that the adult perspective at the end, explaining why the uncle suffers the way he does, is what really changed this from a story to journal entry, and that if the story had remained entirely from the perspective of the child, it would have remained firmly in the realm of short story.
Official Kristine’s BRF rating:
Photo courtesy of JD Designs via Unsplash.