The End of Larry’s Wallet by Todd Hasak-Lowy
Todd Hasak-Lowy is out of control. In this story he veers from view to view. Smaller things, smaller problems get more concern and worry than the larger, bigger picture issues. Here Larry loses his wallet. He freaks out about it. Obsessiveness rears its ugly little head as the character begins formulating colors codes to his life, staying he does not want to be in the red. Whether this is an illusion to the eventual annihilation of millions of people on the Indian subcontinent is a whole other matter.
Multiple realities take place within a single story, each with their own rich version of history.
1. Larry is a pathetic, though ultimately not doomed person living by himself after a series of mediocre events. He tends to tune out aspects of reality that do not interest him or are easily understandable by him. Thus his daughter Lucy, though he does care about her, is too complicated for him. Ditto goes for his other interest in the mother, Karen. Both appear to be far away from his average train of thought which is exclusively him. IKEA bothers him. Mustard bothers him. Indeed he views the world on a selfish, though not overly selfish, level. He’s compassionate but only to the degree that his limited attention will let him be.
2. Nuclear war is presented in a far less emotionally charged, far more ‘matter of fact’ way. Here the focus is less on the immediate (indeed the reader never discovers why or for what reason) but on the media’s reaction to this. Consumption of media is the main point of this section which is chopped up nicely alongside Larry’s embattled search for his wallet and ultimate inability to deal with his surroundings or people. The tone in this section is from afar, an unknowable place, less like fiction and more like reporting on abstract, matter of fact statements.
3. The writer injects himself in this story to reflect on the media response to his short story collection. People get really riled up about the story. However Todd, though upset and unable to defend himself against the public backlash against the story, does get quite a bit of free advertising for his book. For this Todd should ultimately be thankful and gracious that his story has been afforded this level of attention.
In the story Todd focuses attention on the most mundane and most extreme details. Humor emerges from the fact that poor Larry cannot find his wallet while devastating personal tragedies happen to a named and unnamed figure on Television in front of 130 million. What is more amazing is how he appears to show the unemotional, or mixed emotional response of the media in reporting the news against the far more relate-able and mundane of a lost wallet. Even Karen tells him over the phone ‘Not now’ as pieces from the media about the devastation come through, showing the millions dead. From here it seems to state that in order for there to be any level of sympathy there needs to be a narrative, a person to connect to, however distant.
Todd ends it with a smile to America’s news media in an insane type manner.