Like Steinbeck’s fictional masterpiece, Shubaly’s short non-fiction memoir opens with the protagonist foraging through the brush. But there the similarity ends. Shubaly is no Lennie, or George for that matter. And the mouse that he metaphorically pockets becomes a symbol of hope rather than an impending death.
There’s not a word out of place in this beautiful tale of possibility and hope. There’s redemption of a sorts too. It’s the redemption that Shubaly is oftentimes reluctant to grant himself: for his repeatedly articulated story is that of a bruised recovering alcoholic, too messed up by a barely remembered past to be fully at ease with himself. But here, in his sixth Kindle Single, there is an evident maturity that is well hidden behind literary conceits in his previous work. It’s a little too obvious to state that this is a tale of growing up, of interrogating whether he’d make a good father, and, naturally, of excavating some of the tricky relationship with his own dad. Too obvious, but also true. That’s the overarching theme of this episode from Shubaly’s life. Truth and how to reconcile that with the past, and with one’s own fears for the future. It reads as an inward glancing dialogue of man who is coming to terms with the fact that he might be ok as a human after all. It’s not the neatly packaged and sanitised version of what it means to be ok, to be `fine’. Shubaly’s skill lies in the ways in which he can make the banalities of life speak to the possibilities of the future. The ending of the Single speaks to that notion. But, in many ways, there’s no real conclusion here. It’s not about the question of if he’d make a good dad. It’s more of a way of acknowledging the fact that the question of whether to have children should and must be answered on its own terms. Along the way it would seem that he is starting to learn that it’s ok to be ok. It’s fine to be fine. “Of Mice and Me” is both of those and much, much more.