27. by James Salter
Finish date: 10 February 2022
Genre: short stories (10)
Bad news: I read the first story…if this is the quality for the next 9 stories…I’ll finish this book very soon. I’ll give Salter 1 or 2 more stories the chance to convince me he is worth reading. Last Night presents a bleak picture of people whose lives have lost moral focus. Bah.
Bad news: James Salter is a John Updike wanna be. He tries to imitate Updike …without success. Themes: middle-class or upper-middle-class couples – Marriage – divorce – treatment of adultery – from to dinner-party to bedroom conversations.
Bad news: Stories are ‘padded’ with one-note dialogue reminiscent of Abbot & Costello routine “Who’s of first? What’s on second? I don’t know is on third…characters are stuck in a looping!
Good News: ….the stories are very short.
12. by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Finish date: 15 January 2022
Genre: Short stories
Bad news: I didn’t have to go far to find the PERFECT words to describe this book.
I found them on page 370 in the story “A Day in Coney Island.
Singer’s friend an editor of a Yiddish paper says it so clearly:
“…no one give a hoot about demons, duybbuks (Yid: wandering souls) and imps of 200 years ago!”
Bad news: Stories are nice, nostalgic but some feel so long and describe just about everything in the village and synagogue! A few stories are TOO long…they feel like novellas.
A lot of devils, the Evil spirit, Satan and imps…sometimes Satan in the narrator and main character!
Sorry, after 5-6 stories about “old Poland” and village life I started to skim them. The stories I most enjoyed took place in Miami Florida or New York City!
Good news: I.B. Singer had the talent to pierce into the hearts of men who are staring at an empty wall and not in the mood for a conversation. (The Cabalist of East Broadway).
Most of the stories are humorous, with an undercurrent of tragedy, and very readable (just sometimes too long as I said earlier). authentically Jewish short stories with wry humor.
Style: combined Jewish mysticism with demonology (devils, imps etc)
Nearly all of the stories in this collection make use of the supernatural in some way
Scope: this volume represent roughly one-third of Singer’s published work in short fiction (excluding his children’s books).
Topics: telepathy, clairvoyance, premonition, ability to converse with the dead, Ouija boards, improbable tall tales….about dubbyks (wandering souls), imps and devils.
Theme Individual choice and romantic love thwarted by parental edict and tradition. Singer also touches on “old age”. Some of his most lovable characters were either the doddering, depresssed pensioner or an agelss-in-spirit quirky oddball.
New rule: Avoid buying collected short stories books by any author…it is just TOO much of a good thing. It took me 2 days to read 40 stories and I skipped about 7. They were the same old narrative: Polish village, frantic marriage matchmakers, frantic mothers, dogmatic rabbis and daughters and sons that just want to live their own life.
My favorite story was The Letter Writer: …connection between a among a solitary man, a mouse, and a lonely woman…will touch a heart string for sure! If you can find this story…enjoy!
I finally can check this book off on my TBR…it has been collecting dust since 18 July 2015.
47 short stories and I really enjoyed 15 …that is only 30%
Many stories felt outdated, old-fashioned tales about life in pre-WW II Polish villages. The best stories took place later in Singer’s life …settings: New York City, Coney Island, Miami, Florida and Tel Aviv, Israel.
Isaac Bashevis Singer won the #Nobel Prize 1978
…and if you can find them…there are some great stories/novels to read!
- There is nothing more soothing than reading Irish short stories
- at 0400 am when you are jolted out of sleep.
- Claire Keegen, John McGahern and William Trevor guided me
- back into a ‘literary dream world.”
- I’m reading 3 short story collections.
- By rotating one story from each book I want to feel
- …the different writing styles.
- List of Challenges 2021
- Monthly plan
- List of Plays
- #ReadingIrelandMonth21 @cathy746books
- I will have to choose William Trevor the best of these three writers.
- His stories are moving, concise tightly structured and still in just a
- few short pages he manages to present “living and breathing’ characters.
- John McGahern was so disappointing.
- His novels and memoir are much better.
- McGahern’s strenght is his novels and he tries to
- explore multiple events with a complex plot in a short story.
- It just does not work. McGhahen should stick to his day job…novels.
- Claire Keegan is a rising star!!
- Keegan’s writing is delicate: not prudish, but exact.
- I look forward to reading ALL her books!
Keegan: The Parting Gift
- Strong point: indelible images
- her father’s shadow crossed the floor — puppies — and a bathroom stall at an airport
- Strong point: the small details
- “The saucepan boils
- …three eggs knock against each other. One cracked, a ribbon of streaming white.”
- “…cord of the electric heater swinging out like a tail from under the bed.”
- Ms Keegan uses a first person “observer”. But restricting the viewpoint to the “observer”it
- actually makes the protagonist (we don’t even learn her name) more mysterious.
- She remains a mystery because we have no access to her innermost thoughts and feelings.
- The girl’s reasons for going to America will become evident in the story (no spoilers).
- We feel her secret loathing towards an uncommunicative and cruel father.
Walking the Blue Fields
- Beautiful story….
- A priest catalogs the evidence of a
- bride’s uncertainty on her wedding day:
- “…the light, shaky signature in
- The bride’s hand was shaking”…why?
- This short story was a page-turner.
- I wanted to know the meaning of the quote early in the story:
- “There’s pleasure to be had from history.
- What’s recent is another matter and painful to recall.”
- A short story should be a slice of life…to fit on the pinhead of a needle.
- McGahern makes some classic mistakes in “Parachutes”:
- Weak point: Too many scene breaks: I counted 11 including 3 flashbacks
- Weak point: Too many characters: 8
- I would have preferred McGahern had concentrated only on
- the lovers who are ending a relationship.
- Weak point: the title did not connect to the story as strongly as it should.
- The thistledown felt like an aside…a digression.
- Weak point: Vague ending: I invested my time to follow the story to is end and
- felt cheated…he end doesn’t offer a conclusion to the plot.
- This is not a stellar short story…by any means.
McGahern: The Ballad
- Weak points: The story was pointless!
- Four males live in Mrs. McKinney’s boarding house.
- One of them, O’Reilly, has put one local girl “in the family way”
- He tries to avoid marrying her….but ends op doing so.
- They live happy ever after.
- Where is the plot, tension?
- Where is the conflict between characters?
- Yet again McGahern uses 7 different scenes!
- To complete my disappointment the title “The Ballad” makes no
- connection with the story. I did not read about a song or a ditty.
- I rest my case.
Trevor: Three People (Vera, Sidney and Mr. Schele)
- Strong point: …you can feel the tension on the pages!
- ‘They do not talk about a time that
- …was a distressing time for Vera, and Mr. Schele too.” (?)
- Strong point – structure of the story
- …put together like pieces of a puzzle for the reader to discover.
- Strong point: Trevor peppers his story with clues that increase the tension.
- The reader is getting a ‘glimpse’ of a break-in,
- but the evidence doesn’t seem to be believable!
- Why is Vera’s photo in the newspaper!
- Strong point: has ALL THE ELEMENTS of a memorable short story!!
- It felt like reading a novel…so engrossing.
Trevor: Good News
- Strong Point: Characterization: Mr Trevor does not rely on physical appearance but rather
- thoughts, feelings, and interaction to describe the characters.
- Dialogue: Light conversational dialogue between Bea (9 years old)
- and her mother Iris and father Dickie.
- Her mother is “a pushy stage mother”
- reliving her bygone days as an actress while her daughter films a movie.
- Theme: Harassment: The story zooms in on
- …Bea’s inner thoughts and her fears
- while taking part in filming a movie.
- She feels it is an unsafe environment (no spoiler)
- Strong point: Title reflects core message:
- Good News – always brightened things up between
- her parents before they were divorced.
- Bea’s acting job was good news.
- But Bea is torn between admitting her fears (unsafe on the acting set)
- …and or say nothing.
- She sees her parents interact in a loving way again
- ….and she does not want to ruin that.
- She chooses to suffer in silence.
- Editor Bettye Collier-Thomas (1941)
- Title: A Treasury of African American Christmas Stories
- Published: 2018
- Genre: 20 short stories – 4 poems
- List of Challenges 2020
- Monthly plan
- #DiverseDecember @DiverseDecember
- #ALiteraryChristmas In The Bookcase
- A EXCELLENT collection of Christmas stories written by
- African-American journalists, activists, and writers from
- …the late 19th century to the modern civil rights movement.
- I’m reading this book because I want to let it show me
- how white our Christmas reading world is.
- I was so impressed how various authors found a way
- to use the theme of Christmas…..to highlight way
- African Americans experience the holiday.
- #MustRead….this is a gem!
- Each story is short…..and 4 poems
- are presented with an introduction about the author
- and in what context the story/poem was published.
- This is very informative because it is difficult to find information
- about little known writers in the book!
- Personal choice: I read the intro’s before reading the story
- …just to get a feel about the writer.
- an obscure short story writer (Leila Plummer)
- an editor of The Colored American Magazine (1902-1904) (Pauline Hopkins)
- a vaudeville performer/producer/writer (Salem Tutt Whitney)
- Brown Univ, Harvard Law prominent lawyer and civil rights advocate (Louis Redding)
- Included in this book is a simple story “Mirama’s Christmas Test”.
- I discovered Timothy Thomas Fortune.
- Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington
- considered …him an equal,
- …if not a superior, in social and political thought!
- While researching these stories
- …I discovered many writers of color
- who played an important role in literature in the early 20th C.
- I can add them to my TBR 2021
- ….for my year of reading only authors of color.
- Langston Hughes poet/writer
- international correspondent Ethel Payne
- poet Gwendolyn Brooks
- author Willard Motley
- journalists Ida B. Wells
- Louis Lomax (1922-1970) . first African-American television journalist.
- Timothy Thomas Fortune – journalist, writer, editor and publisher
Table of Contents:
- The Sermon in the Cradle – W.E.B DuBois (1868-1963)
- The title says it all….it is a moving sermon!
- Du Bois was a prolific author.
- His collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk,
- is a seminal work in African-American literature.
- A Carol of Color – Mary Jenness (poem)
- Poet of the Harlem Renaissance (not well known)
- The Christmas Reunion Down at Martensville – A. Hodges (poem)
- The story is set in Kentucky in 1893.
- Three generations of a family gather to celebrate Christmas.
- This story has the rhythm and rhyme of
- “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”.
- The Children’s Christmas – Alice Dunbar (1875 – 1935)
- The story of 5 different children who
- …through no fault of their own
- …do not experience the joy,
- …spirit, and the meaning of Christmas.
- Very touching….it was written in 1897, but could be true today,
- Christmas Eve Story – Fanny Coppin (1837-1913)
- The story is written in a fairy tale style to appeal to young readers.
- It brings to light the concerns she had for poor black children
- …she saw in the streets of Philadelphia.
- ”Once upon a time….”
- Mollie’s Best Christmas Gift – Mary E. Lee
- 19th C holiday story emphasizes the
- importance of putting Christ back into Christmas.
- Also it gives the reader a glimpse of what Christmas was like for
- …middle class black children in the late 19th C.
- A Christmas Story – Carrie Thomas
- The story was written for middle class black children.
- …and their expectations of Christmas and Santa Clause
- No matter how old we are
- ….we never tire waiting for Santa Claus!
- Fannie May’s Christmas – Katherine Tillman (1870-1923)
- …uses the theme of Christmas
- …to also highlight role of women.
- So Christmas-y, uplifting story…..good feelings!
- Elsie’s Christmas – S. Whitney
- The author uses the theme of Christmas
- and illustrates important the role of Santa Claus.
- Power of prayer….a family reunited!
- General Washington: A Christmas Story – Paulien Elizabeth Hopkins
- The story uses a biographical sketch of
- “General Washington” ( …person in the neighborhood)
- as social commentary on racism, religion and child neglect.
- The Autobiography of a Dollar Bill – Leila Plummer
- …no biographical info about this short story writer.
- Dollar Bill is a metaphor for a slave: both are commodities.
- Such a clever idea…
- one-dollar bill that talks and tells his story!
- Mirama’s Christmas Test – Timothy Thomas Fortune
- The story (setting: Jason, Florida)
- …reflects the concerns of black educated women
- who wish to marry a men of equal stature.
- Alex and Mirama…do opposites attract?
- Read and find out!
- A Christmas Party That Prevented a Split in the Church – Margaret Black
- Margaret Black sets the story in the village of St Michaels,
- in the church to emphasize the
- centrality of the institution in black lives.
- All of St. Michaels formed a detective bureau
- to watch the young and single….Rev.Steele!
- Now….that must spark your reading curiosity.
- Three Men and a Woman – A. Hodges
- The story hinges on three Christmas Eves…starting in 1890
- when a woman hatches the plot to get rid of her husband!!
- It is a very long “short” story.
- Hodges touches on important and
- ‘explosive’ issues in this story
- …that many black newspapers would not have published.
- The story is finally serialized in
- Indianapolis Freeman…but abruptly
- ends with chapter 10. Why?
- Read the introduction and story to fine out!
- It Came to Pass: A Christmas Story – Bruce Reynolds
- The story opens on Christmas Eve in a large Northern city.
- The beauty and benevolance is seen in the business section of town
- ….Christmas lights, Christmas decorations in store windows.
- Reynolds juxtaposes the displays of Christmas with the abject poverty
- and suffering for people like Ella and Edward.
- Oh….divine intervention knocks on Ella and Edward’s door!
- A Christmas Journey
- The story is set in Boston the story uses social realism
- to explore the meaning of Christmas for the dispossessed.
- There’s always a sad story…
- Uncle U.S. Santa Claus – James Jackson (poem)
- At the beginning of the Great Migration (1913)
- J.C. Jackson challenges the US government in this narrative poem
- to address the issues of blacks who are leaving the South
- in droves to avoid lynching, poverty and discrimination.
- Devil Spends Christmas Eve in Dixie – Andrew Dobson (poem)
- He was a well known radio personality and journalist in Chicago 1930s.
- The poem uses the Christmas theme to
- bring attention to both lynching and
- anti-lynching bills pending in Congress.
- POWERFUL poem…
- This story has the rhythm and rhyme of
- “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”.
- One Christmas Eve – Langston Hughes (1901-1967)
- He was one of the most acclaimed of
- poets, dramatists and novelists in the 20th C.
- Arcie is a black domestic servant and
- …she tries to make Christmas a happy occasion for her four year old son.
- Huges uses the Christmas theme to illustrate the
- vast economic gap between blacks and whites
- ....and the lack of concern whites have about the lives of their servants.
- Langston Hughes….is so good!
- Santa Claus is a White Man – John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998)
- The story uses the theme of Santa Claus, a mythical icon
- of benevolence, love and generosity who transcends the boundaries of race.
- But the Southren White Santa Claus could be the opposite of this image.
- Cruel… Jim Crowism
- …even Santa Claus takes part terrifying a little boy.
- Merry Christmas Eve – Adele Hamlin
- Angie is just out of a relationship (Rollins) .
- ..and starting a new one. (Doug).
- Angie asks herself the question which of these
- …men reflects the strength and character she wants in a man.
- Who does she want to spend Christmas Eve?
- Christmas Day?….and the rest of her life with?
- Luckily, there’s always a love story….
- White Christmas – Valena Minor Williams
- Ms Williams uses the theme of “White Christmas” in 1953
- …on the eve of the Civil Rights Movement to
- capture the mood and attitudes of African Americans.
- ….and they SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST !!
- Heartwarming story.
- Author: Shirley Jackson (1916 – 1965)
- Title: The Lottery
- Genre: Short story, horror, realism
- Published: June 26, 1948 ( The New Yorker)
- Reading time: 6 minutes
- Classic Club Master List
- List of Challenges 2020
- Monthly plan
- Even thought I knew how the story ended
- …I felt a dread.
- This horror of the ending and the even cheery,
- …atmosphere of the scene
- …small town USA just rattled this reader.
- Narrative style: deadpan, 3rd person
- Strong point: unexpected shock of the ending
- Tone: calm
- Point of the story: expose how people seize upon a scapegoat
- …release the cruelties that people seem to have dammed up within themselves.
- Trivia: story is taught in high school for decades
- …often referred to as the best-known short story of the 20th century.
- Author: Alice Munro
- Title: Runaway (8 stories, 352 pg)
- Genre: short stories
- Published: 2004
- Trivia: 2013 winner Nobel Prize (first female since 1901)
- List of Challenges 2020
- Monthly plan
- Good news: Munro develops the characters and
- creates the mood with a sense of place: small town Canada.
- Bad news: These are NOT short short stories!
- Ms Munro writes short stories exclusively.
- Just because these stories are less than novel-length
- …does not mean they are simpler.
- IMO Ms Munro is a skillful writer, winner of Nobel Prize 2013
- …but I did not experience the reading pleasure I hoped for.
- Her stories are not intensely compressed and
- seem…to be endless. I lose interest very quickly.
- I don’t think I will attempt another Munro collection soon, sorry.
- I hightly recommend Amy Witting
- ….for some TOP short stories.
- She is an Australian writer who you probably never heard of!
What trends did I find in the stories?
- Protagonists are all women.
- Story is usually about 4 main characters.
- Ms Munro likes to start a story
- ….then jump 40 years to the past revealing memories. (Tricks, Passion)
- 3 stories form a ‘novella’ (Chance, Soon, Silence) with a 40 yr timeline
- The story Powers moves from beginning to end covering 40 years.
- 7/8: stories a character dies.
- 2/8: stories are coming of age stories (Passion, Tricks)
- 6/8: are about marriage
- …ties that bind, yet sometimes the ties can chafe – and strangle
- 8/8: stories …at the end Munro’s women characters are left alone.
- You can feel loneliness even in a marriage!
- POWERFUL ENDING
- Ms Munro retains a feeling of complexity and mystery about
- The marriage of Carla and her husband.
- The greatest reading pleasure is leaving it up
- To the reader to decide what is going to happen.
- Themes: freedom
- … Carla runs away from the marriage
- …at the end Carla runs away from the truth!
- When will Carla get her revenge?
- Ending suggests she will contain her rage….for now.
- This was the kick-off story
- …the literary ‘amuse’ before
- the main course!
Chance – Soon – Silence
- Strong point
- Munro really knows how to describe
- a character, physiology and attire.
- She describes people with all their quirks.
- Themes: freedom, faith, elderly parents, distant daughter, where is your HOME?
- Strong point: Very powerful ending….a moving stories.
- Writing skill: snapshot of a love affair, family life, parent’s marriage (Soon)
- …looking back at the pain (loss of contact with daughter Silence)
- …and the pleasure of remembering. (Chance)
- I would consider these 3 stories a beautiful novella!
- CHANCE – beginning of affair with Eric. BEGINNING
- SOON – 13 months later visits mother….she is dying ENDING
- SILENCE – daughter cuts off all communication….ISOLATION
- Coming of age….flashback
- What was Grace really looking for?
- Memories of her first feeling of passion….that summer?
- 20% dialogue that reveals very little about the people in the story.
- 80% POV 3rd person backstory about the characters.
- Strong point again….POWERFUL ending.
- That is Ms Munro’s trademark.
- She knows the last few lines will linger in the reader’s mind
- Writing technique: Flashback….40 years ago
- 70% dialogue
- 30% POV 3rd person
- Themes: Children, adoption, misunderstandings, loneliness
- Writing technique: frame story
- Ms Munro begins at the end and moves into a flashback.
- This way she tells how the characters came to be where they are.
- The story being drawn out by an eager listener, the teen-age daughter Lauren
- …demanding the her story from her parents…am I adopted?
- Title: says it all….Trespasses = sins
- 15% dialogue
- 85% POV 3rd person
- ….very touching story
- starts in the past….then jumps 40 years.
- Star-crossed lovers
- Robin and Daniel who meet
- …for a brief intense moment
- …like ships pass in the night.
- The last story in the collection is a curious mix of
- diary and third-person narration.
- with the focus on Nancy,
- …an impertinent, egocentric woman
- who never seems to understand what is occurring. (OOPS!)
- 2 married couples
- whose lives intertwine….but in a sad way.
- This was the LONGEST story
- ….and IMO not very good.
- It does not adhere to the basics of a short story.
• Author: Edgar Allan Poe
• Genre: short story in the horror genre
• Title: The Imp of the Perverse
• Published: July 1845 in Graham’s Magazine
• Length of story: 4 pages [16 paragraphs]
• Published by Penguin Books
• Setting: 1830-1840’s in prison cell, narrator tells his story…how he got on death row
• Theme: an impulse forcing people to act irrationally
• The Imp of the Perverse is a short story that begins as an essay.
• It discusses the narrator’s self-destructive impulses, embodied as The Imp of the Perverse.
• Poe wrote it to justify his own actions of self-torment and self-destruction.
• Many of Poe’s characters display a failure to resist The Imp of the Perverse.
• Murder in The Black Cat
• Narrator in Tell Tale Heart
• The opposite is displayed in the character C. Auguste Dupin.
• He exhibits reason and deep analysis.
• Part 1 Is written in essay style mentioning subjects
• in philosophical terms (primum mobile, à posteriori) ), logic (phrenology) and mysticism (Kabbala)
• Poe cleverly reveals the ‘narrator’s own ‘imp’ by being so wordy!
• The narrator admits he has always wanted to anger the listener (reader) with confusing language.
• “The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing….”
• “I am one of the many uncounted victims of the Imp of the Perverse.” (pg 281)
• Part 2 contains the narrators story….
• He inherits an estate after murdering its owner.
• He ends up on death row after a perverse impulse causes him to confess the murder.
• The Narrator: An apparently demented man who appears intelligent and well educated.
• The Listener: Unnamed person listening to the narrator’s story.
• Madame Pilau: Woman who died after inhaling the smoke from an accidentally poisoned candle.
• The Murder Victim: Unnamed person whose property passed to the narrator.
• Pedestrians: People who witness the narrator’s confession.
Style: first person point-of-view with an unreliable narrator
• Had I not been thus prolix, you might either have
• misunderstood me altogether or […] fancied me mad. (pg 283)
• This is a spirit that tempts a person to do things….they would normally not do.
• Poe explains that the ‘imp’ is an impulse in each person’s mind.
• Alliteration: laconic and luminous language (pg 281)
• Climax: Poe uses a climax words that are arranged to increase their importance.
• “The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing, and the longing ( to the deep regret and mortification of the speaker and in defiance of all consequences) in indulged.” (pg 282)
Voice of Poe:
• Poe states we use the word ‘perverse’ without really knowing what is means.
• Perverse = headstrong, obstinate, contradictory
• Poe is a master when it comes to entering human thoughts.
• He describes how we ‘put off until tomorrow that we could do today’ because we are perverse.
• With each passing day the anxiety grows.
• I do exactly what Poe describes…
• when I have to make an appointment for the dentist!
• “The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare.” (pg 282)
Voice of Poe:
• In paragraph 6 we read one of the famous lines:
• “ We stand upon the brink of a precipice.”
• Poe describes the uncontrollable urge to jump.
• I could only think of the Austrian, Felix Baumgartner.
• In 2012 he stood who on the ‘precipice’ of space before making his famous skydive from the stratosphere!
• This is one of Poe’s lesser known works.
• I expected great writing and got loopy sentences going on and on about nothing!
• After further reading I realized this was Poe’s intention….to irritate the reader!
• The story just kept getting better and better.
• Weak point: the first 4 paragraphs are difficult to get through.
• This almost deterred and discouraged me…but I did not stop!
• Strong point: the story in itself is ‘perverse’ .
• Poe deliberately uses confusing writing and structure to irritate the reader.
• A writer usually wants to please the reader!
• Poe preforms this “perverse” act that defies logic and reason.
• I thought I would just breeze through 4 pages of The Imp of the Perverse.
• How wrong I was.
• I have read each and every word in this story…twice!!
• That is an accomplishment in itself.
• Below is a summation of each paragraph.
• Read it ….or read the story first ……your choice.
• I was surprised by the style, structure and plot.
• Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe are works of art….
• …and deserve a high score.
- Author: Edan O’ Brien
- Title: Saints and Sinners
- Published: 2011
- Genre: 10 short stories (208 pg)
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly plan
- An absolutely feel good story.…it is the longest in this collection.
- Title: Shovel Kings refers to the young Irishmen who
- …came to England to do construction and digging work.
- On payday they felt like (shovel) kings!
- Edna O’Brien describes Rafferty (60+)…
- “He doesn’t belong in England and ditto Ireland
- ….exile is in the mind and there is no cure for that”
- Rafferty and Edna O’Brien have something in common:
- …both felt themselves as exiles having lived in England for 50 years.
- Delia runs a small B&B in a rural village.
- The beating heart of this story is her response to events internally.
- Her thoughts run wild
- ….imaging what her 3 guest are doing in one bedroom.
- Flashbacks of her marriage and her children combined with a
- bizarre dream of saints disrobed
- ….drives her to frantically taking a sleeping pill.
- Strong point: pace
- Pacing feels like a hand pressed in the middle of our backs.
- …pushing us along.
- The sense of trying to catch up with Delia’s thoughts.
- This sense must never slack.
- Delia alludes to lewd machinations
- ….going on under her roof.
- We want to know more….sort of voyeurism!
- Mildred is the first person narrator sitting on the steps of
- …Mme Cassandra’s caravan hoping for a meeting.
- Her marriage is falling apart.
- In a moment of emotion she quotes W. B.Yeats:
- ...”Never give all the heart outright.”
- Does the older wife have a card up her sleeve ?
- Can she outplay the young lover’s trump card?
- Strong point: Tension increases.
- We want to know what Mildred will do.
- How can Mme Cassandra help her?
- This was impressive writing
- ….creating a flow of thoughts with a whiff of humor
- …that seems erratic but is so very well constructed.
- Strong point: Edna O’Brien is a champion ‘withholder’.
- It is her unwillingness to over explain.
- She lets the story end ….and the reader must decide.
- Woman: Mona, painting teacher
- Man: Shane …in prison 15 years …just out a few weeks ago
- Mona and Shane meet to take a drive and have
- dinner in a restaurant.
- Shane is free but his enemies
- …are still looking for him.
- This was a short depressing story.
- I didn’t like it.
- Author: James Tiptree jr. 1915-1987
- Real name: Alice Sheldon
- Title: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (18 short stories)
- Published: 2004
- List of Challenges
- Monthly planning
- List of Short Stories read
19.02.2019 – READ – The Girl Who Was Plugged in
- This is a ‘Jekyll-and-Hyde story about a female monster.
- 17 yr ugly girl makes a Faustian bargain.
- She will be kept in a cabinet strapped with electrodes.
- She will animate the artifically grown body of a perfect girl
- …her dream..to be beautiful!.
- Tiptree submitted this story for publication
- …but is was REJECTED so many times
- …she shelved it.
- Now I know why it was refused….it was awful!
- The story lurches, stumbles is at times painful to read
- …because I know Tiptree can do better!
- I read that Alice Shelden (Tiptree)
- …was a longtime user of Dexedrine (speed).
- It feels like Tiptree let the drug
- …push her creative mind a bit too far for this reader!
18.02.2019 – READ And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side
- Title: is from “La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad” by John Keats
- “Frame” POV: unnamed narrator (news reporter) tells the reader about
- a nameless station engineer at the Orion docking junction who
- is …telling his story about seductive aliens.
- Tone: is NOT sentimental….but erotic, lascivious
- Message: the man warns reporter that
- “Man is exogamous…one long drive to find and impregnate the stranger.”
- In this case…aliens: Procya, Lycran, Sirians, Sellice…
- This biological drive is where humans are most at risk
- At risk not from a monster from a star
- ….but a signal from the human brain stem.
9.04.2018 – READ The Last Flight of Doctor Ain: (1969)
- The story drifts between the past and present.
- Dr. Ain is on a mission to save the world for a “later race”.
- Allusions to W.H. Hudson’s novel Green Mansions and
- the “Gaea Gloriatric“….Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life…
- are the keys that will unlock the theme in the story.
- Dr Ain boards his last flight and
- …no one sees the moral insanity inside him.
- Note: After the first reading I was confused.
- It took a second reading and some note taking to
- finally appreciate this
- …classic short story by one of SF ‘grande dames’.
- I’ve reviewed 4 of James Tiptree jr.’s short stories.
- The Screwfly Solution….was very good,
- ..but I may have to read some ‘duds’ before I
- finished all the selections.
- I’ve included a Wikipedia link about Alice Sheldon’s life
- It was unconventional….and ended in double suicide.