I felt that reading Nelson’s short story, “Chapter Two” was a kind of meta piece to read for a creative writing class. Hil essentially uses her A.A. meetings as a way to tell stories. Rather than sharing any part of herself, she talks about her larger-than life neighbor, Bergeron Love. Rather than telling her audience about her encounters with Love as they unfold, Hil purposefully chooses a specific point in time in the story of their relationship. In this way, she is thinking about time in the way that a writer would when writing a story. Her oral story-telling is an art, and as such it reveals and conceals elements about the artist.
While Hil is sharing elements of her life that are technically true, she is presenting them in a way that does not create an accurate depiction of her current existence. In this way, reading “Chapter Two” from Hil’s perspective is like being inside the mind of someone who is writing their memoir. Much of the history and personal information is present, but it is all presented in a very meaningful and artistic manner which is meant to elicit a particular response from an audience. Hil even takes into account her distinct audiences when she tells her story. She knows, for example, that the female-only A.A. meetings are generally a “tougher” crowd who don’t appreciate lewd or rambling stories.
Even her more honest relationship with her friend Joe, is more like a relationship between an editor and an author. They meet and “debrief” after these story-telling sessions and discuss the finer points of her narratives. The reader only finds out about Love’s death because Joe noted it as a serious omission from her story. They both, however, ultimately agree that leaving out this detail would have ruined the intended effect of the story. In this way, Hil manages to make someone else complicit in her deceit and validate her twisted use of these would-be moments meant for honesty and personal growth. I loved this piece as a commentary on all people who like to tell stories, orally or otherwise.