Uncategorized | August 04, 2016

By Sherell Barbee

Over a decade ago, my brother and I packed up our binders filled with Pokemon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and various sports trading cards and set them in my mother’s basement, where they would go untouched and forgotten amid shelves of once beloved puzzles, board games, and even a coffee tin filled with the gel pens and colored pencils that were a staple of my junior high doodling phase. Although I live over a hundred miles away from my adolescent home, giving in to the hype by downloading Pokemon Go felt like picking at this scab that healed over during my childhood; a sort of reopening of the binders that are stocked with too few Mewtwo cards and too populous Magikarps.

apologizeThese trading cards gave my brother and me the ability—at least for a couple of hours at a time—to become Pokemon masters in our own fictional versions of our Midwestern realities. Pokemon Go has only continued my ongoing exploration of the narratives I’ve grown up loving: fictional stories, despite how far-off they may be, that effectively cloak me into worlds which thrill me as I explore them for the time being.

This summer, I thrust myself into the horrific yet entertaining world Lee Ki-ho creates in At Least We Can Apologize. This novel follows the lives of Jin-man and Si-bong, two men who are forced to make a living by using one of the few skills they acquired while imprisoned: forcing people to find guilt within themselves in order for an apology to be given on their behalf. Many of the appalling lengths that Jin-man and Si-bong go to survive are hard to stomach, but the apologies are presented in a satirical tone, which surprisingly makes for a juxtaposition that works. With the introduction of Pokemon Go and my continual tendency to read for pleasure, this has been a summer where I have engulfed myself more and more in fictional worlds amid my Midwestern reality.

Sherell Barbee has just completed her second semester of the internship program at the Missouri Review, where she works on the social media team and as our contest assistant.