Post August 29, 2014, 12:52:37 AM

The Next Turtle by Charles E.J. Moulton

Be advised – this comment may contain SPOILERS.

Mr. Moulton gives us a complex short story that toys with the idea of infinity in the mathematical sense.

By starting in the first person—unreliable—we hear the setting as viewed by the narrator. He peppers his description with references to cultural icons: Ferrari, Rodin, Holst. I think the brand names help build the character. The failed actor still carries an artist’s ego, so his possessions lend him fame.

As the narrator engages with his hallucination, I see him developing his fantasy of being a god. He spices up his menu of celebrities: Warhol, Hooper, Kafka. During the hallucination, however, he seems to wonder about his own sanity. The narrator, sober or sane or not, concludes his account and the story shifts to omniscient third person.

The author mentions the “Turtles All the Way Down” legend (the source of the title) just before he shifts into the asylum scene.

Now I’m confused. I assume that the narrator is living in a psych ward, and I don’t see how he came to be hospitalized. A new character, “The Writer” appears in conversation with Dr. Armstrong. It would make more sense to me with better information in the closing scene.

The dialogue and, especially, the voice of the narrator, make this an intriguing story. It deserves a careful reading. You may want to give it a second look.