Johnson’s “Beverly Home”

I felt like I had to laugh while reading “Beverly Home,” or otherwise I’d cry.  I too once volunteered at a nursing care facility that went by the name ‘Beverly such-and-such’ and I have to say Johnson’s descriptions really took me back.  There was something so grungy about these depictions of the hospital, along with the narrator himself.  His job is where I had to laugh; the juxtaposition of the faux-cheerful community bulletins celebrating senior’s accomplishments with the voice of this pathetic, romantic peeping tom was truly twisted.

This story had me really struggling with my feelings for the narrator.  I really, really wanted to hate him, especially for his creepy habits.  And yet, for some reason, I can understand why he feels the need to spy on other people.  He is lonely. He is pathetic.  I just can’t despise him for that.  He also has some beautiful observations through the story, like the amputee who kept his ‘stumps cuddled like pets’ or the ‘certain brightness’ in the eyes of his partially paralyzed lover.  He’s a recovering addict and stalker, but also a man looking for a meaning.  This attitude kept me on alert throughout the story, because I wasn’t sure what the narrator’s next move was going to be.  His bizarre yet somehow sympathetic multifaceted personality kept me guessing: Would he actually rape the Mennonite wife?  Would he go absolutely mad at his quiet little nursing home job?  Or would he simply recede back into the folds of normal life?

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