Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"The White Man" by Thomas M. Disch

Turkey Day Marathon Episode Four: A New Turkey

Story number four is kind of unusual. In it, Disch deals with how one culture can be woefully misinterpreted by another. It also deals with the exploitation of immigrants in America. It follows a Somali teen, Tawana, who lives with her family in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Through a string of events, and with the encouragement of a local minister, Tawana comes to believe that "White Men," which appears to be an variant on vampires that uses syringes to take your blood and kill you. This belief leads to some very disturbing results.

Equally disturbing, however, is what you learn about Tawana's life, and, through her, the life of a refugee family (Tawana herself doesn't appear to be a refugee, although it is clear that her grandfather and her parents did flee from Somalia to the U.S.). There are several instances where, I think, the reader is supposed to be equally horrified about the everyday things that happen to Tawana as they are horrified by the playing out of the vampire plot. It's an unsettling story, and not one you really want to read while on a long car trip where you have a lot of time to think.

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