>The New Yorker: "Sin Dolor" by T. Coraghessan Boyle

>Set in Mexico, this is the story of a doctor in a village who one day delivers a baby who doesn’t cry. He finds this odd, but the boy is otherwise normal. A few years later his parents bring him in for the treatment of burns and it is learned that he feels no pain. The doctor suspects abuse, but there is no proof. A few more years go by and the boy is brought in with a broken leg. The doctor tries to take the boy under his wing but his parents resist. While at the doctor’s house, the boy allows the doctor’s scorpion specimens to sting him, but he survives. Years go by and the father turns the boy into a sideshow freak, but the doctor never forgets him. The boy reappears, and the doctor makes a last effort to help him. Apart from the way the boy is treated by his family, there is a sinister side to the doctor, too. At least there is a suggestion that the doctor has committed infanticide, and there is no question that he is experimenting with this boy (the scorpions, and there is also an episode with wasps) and envisions his own fame at the boy’s expense. This is a terrific story that, unfortunately, steps over the sentimentality line when the boy, who never does feel physical pain, tells the doctor that he feels pain in his heart. Ugh. I was with Boyle until that moment. Otherwise, this is one of the best of the year. (But I thought Boyle was officially going by T.C. these days, not T. Coraghessan. What’s with the reversion?)

October 15, 2007: “Sin Dolor” by T. Coraghessan Boyle

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