Rebecca Emin’s “Class of 1990”


It’s week 33 of the Deal Me In short story reading challenge, and the hand of fate fell down on the job a little bit this time, dealing out the five of hearts and this story only after the peak of high school and college “reunion season” (at least around here) had passed.

Worth noting is that I also read a story by this author as part of last year’s Deal Me In challenge. My post about “Tour and Duty” may be found here. Like that story, this one was quite short and would, I think, be more accurately classified as “flash fiction.” I liked this one as well – particularly its premise – but only wished there were more to it.

“The Class of 1990” is the story of four (I presume college) friends who, on their graduation day meet at a favorite restaurant. Sylvia, Clive, Kate, and Max share the standard pleasantries such an occasion warrants and one suggests that they meet there every five years to “have a catch up.” They all agree and the subsequent “chapters” each include a brief exchange of dialogue from those five-year reunions.

The gimmick of the story is that, after each character speaks a line of dialogue out loud, we are given in italics the true thoughts that are going through the character’s mind. For instance, when Sylvia says, “Im so glad we decided to come for a meal,” what we read in italics is: Let’s get this ordeal over so I can go home to my real friends.

Most of the ’true thoughts’ are what many of us have surely always suspected is going on behind the curtain at reunions, except for Max’s that is. He is the one character who is actually sincere in his dialogue AND his true feelings. Max is also the first one of the four not to show up at one of the every five year reunions. Why he is not there is the “twist” of the story.

This makes the third story from Emin’s collection “A Knowing Look and Other Stories” that I’ve read. I’ve enjoyed all three enough to finish the collection, but whether I parcel them out slowly as part of my future editions of Deal Me In, or knock them out all at once as a vacation read or something, I don’t know. The collection maybe found on Amazon (kindle version only $2.99 )

I found the following photo at which features a beautiful Russian deck of playing cards.



  1. August 16, 2014 at 11:28 am

    How interesting. I haven’t heard of this one. By the way you describe it the story reminds of a television show called, Peep Show. It’s where you get both what is said out loud and the inner thoughts of the two main characters.


    • Jay said,

      August 17, 2014 at 10:37 am

      Yes! There are probably many variations on is theme in TV/movies/literature. The “reunion” setting is one almost everyone has some experience with too, which maybe makes it more effective.


    • August 23, 2014 at 9:36 am

      That’s interesting, I’ve never seen Peep Show, but I do imagine lots of writers use that technique. There was a lady who read ‘Class of 1990’ when I first wrote it and she tried to write a story using a similar technique as a result. That was incredibly flattering. I’ll give Peep Show a watch if I see it on TV in future.


  2. Dale said,

    August 16, 2014 at 11:50 am

    The out loud vs. inner thoughts concept is very intriguing and could be fairly comical. I admit I thought of a few reunions of mine in which I’m sure that kind of thing would have been interesting. I like that the story had one person who was the same “inside and out”.


    • Jay said,

      August 17, 2014 at 10:38 am

      I’ve somehow remained steadfast in my refusal to ever attend any large-scale class reunions. The behind the curtain dialogue in this story is the main reason why. 🙂


  3. Randall said,

    August 16, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    I LOVE stories that have a “gimmick” like this, but for some deeper purpose as well, not just for the sake of the gimmick. You make me want to wander on over to Amazon, and if this book just happens to leap into my cart for some reason, I could always blame it on you! 🙂


    • Jay said,

      August 17, 2014 at 10:39 am

      For $2.99 it may be a safe investment for even the risk-averse. 🙂 The title story was my favorite of the three I’ve read so far.


    • August 23, 2014 at 9:32 am

      I hope you enjoy the book if you do decide to read it, Randall. I’d love to know what you think. Best wishes.


  4. Paula Cappa said,

    August 17, 2014 at 10:53 am

    This sounds so offbeat I just may try it. Thanks Jay.


  5. BookerTalk said,

    August 17, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I like the idea of the running commentary on the dialogue as it happens. Me, I avoid all school reunions……


  6. August 23, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Thank you so much for this review of “Class of 1990” I am really pleased you enjoyed the story. Also I am very grateful to be featured on your site for a second time, what a huge privilege. Thank you, Jay!


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