Comparing The Stories 'Famous Actor And Anything Helps' By Jess Walters

1231 Words5 Pages

Jess Walters is an author who has a tendency to center his stories around characters who seem to fall short in life. You can see this theme when you compare his stories “Famous Actor” and “Anything Helps,” in which both main characters are people who seem to the reader to have fallen short in some area of their life. In “Famous Actor” we have our protagonist Katherine who describes herself in the story as “... the most fucked-up barista in Bend, Oregon” (Pg. 280). In “Anything Helps” our protagonist is Wayne, also referred to as Bit in the story, who is a homeless father with a drinking problem who lost his wife to drugs, and his son to CPS. Walters also seems to accompany this low point in the character’s lives with an action that almost leads …show more content…

For Katherine, it’s after the Famous Actor leaves and she’s all alone in her apartment crying on her bed, “The morning he left, I rubbed lotion on my arms so that I wouldn’t start scratching. I cried for a while, then I cried for crying. I went back to bed but I couldn’t fall back asleep” (Famous Actor, pg. 279). Wayne pities himself when he’s talking to Nate’s foster mom, he even unintentionally uses his self-pity to try and get Mrs. Molson to accept the book he bought for Nate. “This wasn’t what he meant to do, this self-pity. He wanted to talk like real people, but Bit feels himself fading… Finally, Bit smiles and rasps: Anything helps. She looks up at him with what must be pity although he can’t quite make it out” (Anything Helps, pgs. 10-11). Following the scenes of self-pity, we see a character in each story interact in some way with our protagonist that seemingly changes something in them. In “Famous Actor,” it’s when Katherine walks into her bathroom to find her medicine cabinet ajar and her medications and pills all cleaned out from the Famous Actor. “I got up to take a shower. That’s when I noticed my medicine cabinet door was slightly ajar. I opened it all the way. He had cleaned it out. The Zoloft I take for depression. The Ativan I take for anxiety. The Ambien I sometimes have to take to sleep…” (Pg. 279). …show more content…

For Katherine, it’s how she feels after she realizes the Famous Actor has stolen all her medications, “That morning as I stood there, staring at that empty medicine cabinet, I felt the strangest sense of pride in him. Warmth, Love, even. Well, look at you, I thought, you are normal- as normal as the most fucked-up barista in Bend, Oregon. Relax, [Famous Actor], wherever you are, you’re one of us.” (Famous Actor, pg. 280). This is a small step towards redemption for Katherine because throughout the novel she had been cold and unfeeling, even describing herself as feeling dead inside. “... I wasn’t sad, just more deadened, the way I get” (Famous Actor, pg. 270). So for Katherine feeling anything like warmth or love is a step in the direction of changing how emotionless and alone she is. For Wayne, it’s when he’s standing outside the bookstore thinking how much alcohol he could buy if he returned the book but he doesn’t return it and instead sits on his corner and reads the book. “Bit stands outside the bookstore holding a twenty-eight dollar book. Holding twenty-eight dollars. Holding three-fifths of vodka. Holding nine forty-ounce beers. Holding five bottles of fortified wine. Holding his boy… Bit eases against the light pole. You think you’re through

Show More
Open Document