Piecemeal #2 by Nate Beaty

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Piecemeal #2
By Nate Beaty

nate_beaty_piecemeal2I’m a worrier. I always have been. Even as a child, there was a general sense of impending doom that couldn’t be avoided. I wish I could point at something as the cause of such general, faceless dread, but it’s easy to get caught up in the symptoms, rather than addressing cause. You learn to deal with it eventually—you have to—be it through drugs or therapy, or, in my case, the simple realization that not everything is worth the investment.

There are those who live lives on the other end of the spectrum, with seeming unflappability. It’s a trait often associated with youth. And while novelists and filmmakers no doubt have a penchant for remembering such bygone days through rose tinted glasses, there is, perhaps, something to that retrospective idealism. Even amongst the most perpetually worried amongst us, there is a certain sense of invincibility that eventually erodes with age.

It’s a sense that Nate Beaty embraces fully in this second issue of Piecemeal—taking the concept to an almost cartoonist length in the story of an afternoon out for three friends. The first several pages play out like a selection of snapshots from some fondly remembered summer, driving around on back roads and plunging from rope swings into swimming holes.

It’s not an entirely carefree picture by the end of these 28 pages, however. After all, what youthful romp would be complete without a handful of close calls? And Beaty really does put his trio through the paces in his brief time with them, including a flipped car and a near drowning. But anything that doesn’t kill them only serves as a momentary distraction from far more important concerns like teenage affections.

Beaty doesn’t subject his characters to such moments out of spite, so much as attempt to highlight precisely where their concerns lie—the great drama of their lives exists in interpersonal relationships, not the greater world outside their triangle and their car. The artist’s treatment of the subject is almost cartoony at points, echoing the loose brushstrokes that paint his scenes.

His story, like his art, is less concerned with accuracy than it is with an attempt to capture the feeling of a particular point in life—one where it’s possible to be rescued from drowning one second and become jealous about the budding relationship of two friends the next.

And before he’s down with them, Beaty runs his characters through the ringer one final time, content in knowing that they almost certainly haven’t learned any lesson at all. After their car flips completely and the continue down the road, it isn’t until the driver, Jen, unthinkingly flips on the broken windshield wipes that the shock of the moment sets in.

Such cautiousness leads to pause and introspection, but it’s by the end, that Beaty’s characters aren’t quite ready for the responsibility that comes with slowing down.

–Brian Heater