(from Gulf Coast — A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts Winter/Spring 2012 Vol. 24, Issue 1)
My father kept getting farther away. I watched him turn smaller and smaller so that, at some point, I couldn’t separate his arms from his legs, his head from his feet. His body slipped farther out, becoming a tiny mass billowing like a dead sea animal, then becoming a dot, and he could’ve been anything to me: a small ship approaching the harbor, a lost sailboat without direction, or an unmoving island far away at sea.
The first two-thirds of “Calm Edge of the Earth” is set in present time, a grown son coming to terms with his father’s imminent departure. I really enjoyed this part of the story. Rosado is able to write in a very detailed manner about eating Chinese food and going through airport security in a way that makes these mundane things seem fresh and interesting. The latter one-third of the story, however, is backstory, and we never return to the present. In the backstory, the grown son is a six-year-old boy, and his father is teaching him to swim. The boy fights the waves, afraid he’ll drown, but the father trusts the ocean to support and carry him. Ultimately, even though well written, this was too story-like for my tastes. I was conscious of the writer in a way I hadn’t been before, and it made me feel like I was getting a metaphor for the ways in which each of these men dealt with life (which I was). It’s a shame, really, because the writing here is excellent, and I enjoyed the story that was being told in present time very much. I just wish we could have stayed there, or that the ending had been handled with more subtlety.