Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Jack López’s key technique in “Easy Time” is association. He limits the third-person narrative to Tony’s point of view, so it follows his thoughts. For example, after sparring with his uncle, Tony goes home to clean up. He enters a “low-ceilinged room.” Having to duck his head reminds him of when he first needed to duck to enter the room. “It was the summer of the tenth grade,” and the coach began to try to persuade Tony to join the football team. This in turn reminds Tony of Jimmy, who had been on the team, and of Jimmy flying a helicopter in “Asia.” This memory evidently leads to something Tony does not wish to think about—the reader discovers more later—because Tony then thinks of something else. Tony remembers turning the coach down for a reason Tony considers, with some naïveté, “simple”: He was spending his afternoons with Sylvia. “Afternoons without Sylvia would drive him crazy.” All these thoughts flow from his lowering his head in order to enter a room. This narrative technique is effective in conveying the inner life of a young man who does not speak much about his thoughts and feelings.

“Easy Time” owes a debt to Ernest Hemingway, particularly his short stories about a young man, Nick Adams, who grows up in a small town. “Easy Time” recalls these stories in its setting, spare, idiomatic style, celebratory descriptions of the challenges of physical activity (fighting, sex, swimming with grace against...

(The entire section is 501 words.)