All Carlsbadistan Issue Of The New Yorker

by The Editors on April 7, 2009

Ny Apr6It is rare that Carlsbadistan gets a real literary treatment. But, as several readers have pointed out, the April 6, 2009 issue of The New Yorker magazine features a piece of fiction by writer Brad Watson titled Visitation. Watson, who is a creative writing professor at the University of Wyoming, placed his sad story of an estranged, unemployed father visiting his young son right in the heart of Carlsbadistan.

The fictional father and son stay in a local motor lodge (with some Gypsies) and walk the “wide beach at Carlsbad. Carlsbad was far too cool, but what could you do?” While on the beach they watch a military helicopter nearly crash land. Later the two go to Pizza Port for dinner. Here’s how Watson describes it:

The place was crowded with people who’d been at the beach all day, although Loomis recognized no one they’d seen when the helicopter had nearly crashed and killed them all. He’d expected everyone in there to know about it, to be buzzing about it over beer and pizza, amazed, exhilarated. But it was as if it hadn’t happened.

The long rows of picnic tables and booths were filled with young parents and their hyperkinetic children, who kept jumping up to get extra napkins or forks or to climb into the seats of the motorcycle video games. Their parents flung arms after them like inadequate lassos or pursued them and herded them back. The stools along the bar were occupied by young men and women who apparently had no children and who were attentive only to one another and to choosing which of the restaurant’s many microbrews to order. In the corner by the rest rooms, the old surfers, regulars here, gathered to talk shop and knock back the stronger beers, the double-hopped and the barley wines. Their graying hair frizzled and tied in ponytails or dreads or chopped in stiff clumps dried by salt and sun. Their faces leather brown. Gnarled toes jutting from their flip-flops and worn sandals like assortments of dry-roasted cashews, Brazil nuts, ginger root.

Visitation is a great piece of short fiction, but Watson’s story isn’t the only Carlsbadistan reference in the issue: on the back page in the Cartoon Caption Contest (one that we should have won at least once already) Carlsbadistan’s own Ben Russak has a caption (one of three finalists) that we believe will be the winner.

Damn him.

[Link: The New Yorker]

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