"Dividing by Percentages"
On "Dividing by Percentages" by Brandon Noel
by Matt Weinkam
“Dividing by Percentages” is the first piece of prose that Brandon Noel has ever published. Not sure about you, but I find this pretty remarkable. His background is in poetry, which you can sense in the rhythm of those opening sentences, in the instinct for figurative language (“a sentinel of our remembrance”), and in the reverence for detail (“the fat around their wrists stay puffy and creased”). But the narrative demonstrates such command of the elements of storytelling that it’s hard to believe Brandon hasn’t been honing his skills writing creative nonfiction for so many years. Ray Davis, for example, is such a clearly drawn character that he threatens to take the story away with him. And the movement from the factory towards the into the fever dream of the beach and back home functions with a kind of dream-plot logic that succeeds even as it defies explanation.