By Jerome Bixby
Response by Gretel Dougherty
Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to writing but sometimes it becomes clear whether or not a story is good writing. It is rare that writing is interesting and good but not thought provoking, because as with any other type of art, it is meant to help the viewer see the world in a new way. However, all writing is subjective, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. “It’s a Good Life” was considered an intriguing enough story to make into a television episode, but it was not all that thought provoking for me personally. For this reason, it is an unsuccessful story.
Many times, the stories that hit closest to home are the ones that involve a personal connection. This story wasn’t relatable to my life like the other one we read. It was set in an isolated place, and it only had to do with the human mind under the pressure of fear. However, there was nothing new in this story. We all know how humans react to constant fear. It involves tiptoeing around the source, constant paranoia, and the occasional burst of anger. None of the characters seemed to resonate with me. They weren’t unique. It seemed as though they were there simply to further the plot. Anthony was just like any other kid with too much power, messing up the lives of everyone because he doesn’t know how to use it. Looking into the mind of Anthony, the child, was interesting but it was in no way directly relatable to real life which made it seem somewhat like there was no point for the reader to try and figure out a meaning.
It almost seemed like the story was a half formed idea the author wrote down and then published before it’s time. It got a lot of attention that it probably didn’t deserve. The writing seemed domestic and boring. It wasn’t stunningly beautiful or ugly. It didn’t seem to have a reason for being the way it was, and I didn’t appreciate it. It made the story seem unfinished. The only possible insight I gained from it was that maybe it was a metaphor for government censorship. But, there wasn’t enough evidence to further the claim. I was left with a general feeling of “why are all these things happening”. The end of the story wasn’t satisfying. It didn’t all tie together in the end. I suppose nothing really does, but if it’s a story, not real life, then I think everything ought to tie together. Even if it is only to make people feel more secure about the fact that we are all floating on a giant rock in space.
Maybe other people saw something important in it that I missed. Maybe the story had an underlying reason for existing. Maybe it gave people some incredible new insight that helped them see the world differently. But, it didn’t help me learn about the world because it wasn’t so easily understood that it had an obvious meaning, and not abstract enough to have any meaning at all. It was at a weird middle ground that had some aspects that made perfect sense, and some aspects that were not weird enough to seem profound. There, I think, is the sentence that describes my experience of reading this story. It was not weird enough to be profound. It was written in 1953. That I know, and maybe it was weird enough and subsequently profound back then, when the world was less connected and there was less progress and less diversity than we have now. But being a millennial with access to whatever I want in a second, maybe I am numb to weirdness by now.