Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The structure of “Doc’s Story” is a frame story of the narrator’s troubles encasing the core story about the blind basketball player. The two stories interact and infuse each other with meaning, sharing their themes of loss and recovery. Equally important is the language of the story. The narrator’s style is literary and works perfectly to capture the educated voice of the jilted lover. The opening paragraph of the story, for example, describes the woman’s small white hands and what they meant to him; one of the last paragraphs describes their final spring walk together at dusk in Regent Park, where the basketball court is located. The characters Wideman writes about, however, use a powerful black dialect that is bright and musical in its effects. The men who lounge around the court telling one another stories employ a street language that is as colorful as it is ungrammatical, and this language gives a color and texture to “Doc’s Story” that it would not otherwise have. Wideman is notable for being able to fuse these two linguistic levels and to make them work as effectively as they do in “Doc’s Story,” with a rich literary language blending into a vivid street vernacular.

Wideman’s language is itself highly figurative, in both his narrator’s exposition (“Blind as wood”) and in the street language of the other characters (the basketball dropping through the net “clean as new money”). He also uses multiple sensory...

(The entire section is 567 words.)