Conjunctions:34 American Fiction: States of the Art

Two Stories
The following is one of two John Edgar Wideman stories published in Conjunctions:34.
—for TH


A man walking in the rain eating a banana. Where is he coming from. Where is he going. Why is he eating a banana. How hard is the rain falling. Where did he get the banana. What is the banana’s name. How fast is the man walking. Does he mind the rain. What does he have on his mind. Who is asking all these questions. Who is supposed to answer them. Why. Does it matter. How many questions about a man walking in the rain eating a banana are there. Is the previous question one of them or is it another kind of question, not about the man or walking or the rain. If not, what’s it a question about. Does each question raise another question. If so, what’s the point. If not, what will the final question be. Does the man know any of the answers. Does he enjoy bananas. Walking in the rain. Can the man feel the weight of eyes on him, the weight of questions. Why does the banana’s bright yellow seem the only color, the last possible color remaining in a gray world with a gray scrim of rain turning everything grayer. I know question after question after question. The only answer I know is this: all the stories I could make from this man walking in the rain eating banana would be sad, unless I’m behind a window with you looking out at him.

John Edgar Wideman is the author of Hoop Roots: Basketball, Race, and Love (Houghton Mifflin).