Amy Hempel writes with great insight into human nature. She writes in a way that makes the imperfect most poetic. In “Today Will Be a Quiet Day” Hempel uses the sincere, familial love to express humanity and humility. Early in the story a glimpse into the father’s psyche elicits such sentiments, “He wanted to know how they were, is all. Just—how were they.” This occurs only after reference to a possible foreshadowing of disaster when the brother provoked his sister with worry, a threat confirmed in the form of birds. Directly following, Hempel slips in a toxic look only a sister could give a brother.
Hempel uses a halved red belt, a ping-pong paddle, and a lighthearted death threat to blur the everyday and the extraordinary.
“You think you’re safe, the father thought, but it’s thinking you’re invisible because you closed your eyes.”
A car ride, music lessons, revelation, and conversation reverberate throughout the story a commonality that resonates with middle and upper class America.
Grab your coat and grab your hat
Leave your worries by the doorstep
Life can be so sweet
I used to walk in the shade with my blues on parade, hating its guts
But I’m not afraid…this rover’s crossed over
This story ends on the sunny side of the street.