by Joseph O’Neill
from the October 5, 2020 issue of The New Yorker
I don’t know about you, but I could definitely use a story called “Rainbows” right about now. I’m not sure O’Neill will deliver the pleasant respite and sign of hope that I mean when I say that, but thanks be to him for even titling his story “Rainbows.”
The story does have an opening paragraph I find oddly compelling. I’m not sure if it’s the rhythm or what, but I do find this welcome.
I came to this country — from Ireland, at the age of twenty-three — unaware of the existence of mentors. I’m certain that I had never heard the world “mentee.” The words in Ireland were not exactly the same as the words in America. When a classmate told me that she was going to meet her “mentor,” I had to ask her to explain. In America, she informed me, there was a social practice in which an older, experienced person donated time and knowledge to a younger, relatively foolish person in order to help the latter better understand the world’s perils and pathways. I was filled with a suspicion that bordered on disbelief. I probably said, “Ah, go away.” Ireland has changed, everyone tells me, and maybe this sort of suspiciousness is no longer current. I doubt it, however.
I hope you’ll find time to read the story and offer your thoughts below! I hope you’re well, wherever this may find you!