Last month, I wrote about “Uncle Rock” by Dagoberto Gilb and complained that there was no impact. It read like a coming of age story that lost me. In “Please, Thank You” published by Harper’s, Dagoberto Gilb’s story is full of emotion that brings the reader along the whole way. At times, it reminded me of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, since the main character Mr. Sanchez has suffered a stroke and is unable to communicate or control his body at first.
The story has minimal punctuation with commas left out, words not capitalized, and apostrophes missing. This formatting seemed like it was trying to reinforce the distance between the narrator and those whom surround him, including the reader. However, as the story moves forward we learn that the narrator is supposed to be the one who has written the prose, and it’s due to his poor motor skills that only periods are used. It works. Before you get there though, it’s already working in creating that distance.
A strength of this story is how it treats illness and hospitalization. Mr. Sanchez (I can’t remember if his first name is used) is a tough guy, and it’s sobering to watch him deal with the helplessness of having had a stroke. Hospitals are their own worlds. The closer Mr. Sanchez comes to being discharged from the hospital the more he begins to realize how he fit in there. Besides being a place for recovery, he’s grown close to some of the workers, and now must find a new place as someone else fills his role there.