The Miller Aud-cast | March 26, 2021

Hello, the internet: it’s time for Episode 12 of the Aud-cast. This episode we feature “On the Education of the Youth,” a decidedly dark humor entry by Harrison Gatlin.

Harrison lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where he’s working on his MFA in Fiction. He turned 27 on the 27th of January this year but every day is still a coming-of-age story. He’s currently writing a book about attention, addiction, and consumer products, and he swears he will spend less time on his phone this year.

“On the Education of the Youth” is a notable entry from our 2020 Miller Audio Prize. The piece is narrated by a former third grade teacher who details his dedication to teaching the 8 year-olds in his charge about mortality. At first this just entails having his class read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” As he continues to conduct discussions about death and dying, the process invites in the children a kind of nihilism that ultimately leads to a concerning confrontation while the class is on a field trip. But you know, in a funny way.

The tensions between what the students demand to satisfy their intellectual curiosity about death and that curiosity’s heartlessness in confrontation with a real world situation full of mortal danger are exaggerated just enough to be funny, and not so much that the questions raised lose their gravitas. See for yourself with Harrison Gatlin’s “On the Education of the Youth.”