The Gravity of Us – IRJE #2

In Phil Stamper’s novel The Gravity of Us, Cal (Calvin) is the only child to two parents, and they are far from a perfect family. Cal was a rather popular influencer/news reporter on a streaming app, and he had just been invited to an event with BuzzFeed, something that would be a major step towards his already-growing career. Though the ground-breaking news his father had in store would change his life forever. His father was accepted into a program ran by NASA, and this contract was not only about his dad, both Cal and his mother were looped into this. They had to move to Houston, no exceptions whatsoever. This greatly upset Cal for various reasons; he can’t continue his current career (as they would be forced into a tv show, and no streaming was permitted outside of that), he would be leaving his best friend Deb, and of course, beautiful New York. Sure, his life at home wasn’t the greatest, but he couldn’t imagine leaving this place. In this passage, him and Deb are strolling around New York and we receive a short, but authentic account of the emotions this state carries.

We duck into a tiny bakery with no more than five stools of seating. The two bakers are cramped behind the counter, and I start to get claustrophobic on their behalf. But as I look around, I see glimpses of the neighborhood in notices plastered on the walls. Yoga classes, babysitting offers, piano lessons, writers’ groups. Panning out, I see protest signs, queer pride flags of all varieties, old campaign stickers from the past couple of elections. New York has a way of making you feel at home, no matter where you’re at. You just have to step off the street, and some neighborhood will claim you as one of their own. (pp. 6-7)

I personally enjoy passages where someone describes the atmosphere of a location, and I felt that this quote was a good example of that. While the quote has minimal detail about the physical aspects of the location, the aura that the setting carries is equally as significant. I also noticed how he points smaller, irrelevant details rather than the “bigger picture”. I enjoy it when an author mentions the more insignificant features of a scene, as I feel that it makes it feel more immersive and genuine. This quote is not outstanding, but I appreciated its minor contribution to the plot.

Nyah Sharratt – 11/2

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