Sunday, March 17, 2019

Christmas Storms and Sunshine by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell Review

The story "Christmas Storms and Sunshine" was written by English writer Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell in the epoch which was considered as the Victorian era. In a slightly ironic manner, the author described the division of society and the strength of prejudice.

The author started the story with a description of two newspapers which belonged to different political movements:- a Conservative Party - Tories and Reformist Party Whig, two men who managed these newspapers lived with their families in one house. They published the articles which abused the opposite newspaper and party. That manner was spread to the relationships between them.

The author described some examples of the negative attitude of wives of these two men toward each other. It occurred one day before the little son of one the woman became ill. The hostile wives started to care about the baby together, it united them and the two families even had dinner on Christmas day together.

The strength of the story is in details which were described by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell. These details might seem small (as a list of dishes or mischief of cat) but they conveyed to the reader the atmosphere of the epoch and relationship in society.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

I Walk Between the Raindrops by Bill McKibben Review

The short story "I Walk Between the Raindrops" by Bill McKibben was published in the "The New Yorker" magazine at the end of 2018. The story includes several episodes; however, connection between the episodes is not obvious.

The main character, he was also a narrator of the story, described some events which occurred during his life. His memories were not pleasant. He lived through several disasters and remembered the stories of the people who suffered through them as well. The narrator told readers about some of his actions that unintentionally harmed people.

There were a few episodes in the story with nostalgic notes. The format of the story is similar to a diary. Readers can appreciate the excellent writing skill of the author.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Outcasts of Poker Flat by Bret Harte Review

The story "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" by Bret Harte represented the Wild West. The characters of the story are the gambler, fallen ladies and the local drunk. They were exiled from the town Poker Flat, and they met their fate together.

Bret Harte dedicated his most famous stories to the time of California Gold Rush. However this story is not about the desire of being rich, this story is about the best qualities of the people who faced their fates.
The main character, Mr. Oakhurst, who earned a living by playing poker, received this sentence too. He perceived it with a philosophic calmness. As the author said, "He was too much of a gambler not to accept Fate."

The outcasts left the town. They could die or they could survive. They set a camp in the mountains. The local drunk and a suspected robber, Uncle Billy had gone with the group's mules and the horses were stolen. The group was met by Tom Simpson, known also as "the innocent" with his young girl. They were on the way to Poker Flat to get married. Once Mr. Oakhurst won a great deal of money playing with Tom and he returned the money advising Tom that the latter should never play poker again, as he was a terrible player.

The outcasts displayed their best qualities helping each other and sacrificed themselves. This narration is without a happy ending, the main characters died. This story as other works of Bret Harte represented a genre of naturalism. He described California during the first half of the nineteenth century. Harte's colorful writing helped shape the Western genre as a part of American literature.

This is a link to the text of the story:

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A Day's Wait by Ernest Hemingway Review

The short story "A Day's Wait” by Ernest Hemingway based on actual events in the author's life. Hemingway’s son came down with a fever. The author's son reacted similar to the reaction of the boy in the story (the main character of the story).

The American boy, his name was Schatz thought that he was going to die. These thoughts were based on the fact that his temperature was a hundred and two and he heard from his schoolmates in France that people can't live with a temperature of forty-four degrees or more. In fact, he was healthy. He was just used to another scale for measuring temperature. He used Fahrenheit instead of Celsius.

This mistake revealed that auto-suggesting is essential. Being sure that he was really ill, Schatz felt and behaved accordingly. Schatz displayed also some good features of his character, he was brave facing death in the near future as he thought.

Readers can appreciate Hemingway's method of writing dialogs. It allowed making own inferences about the characters of the story. It made the story easy for reading and instructive.

Here is the link to the story:

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Honolulu by William Somerset Maugham Review

In the first part of the short story, "Honolulu" by William Somerset Maugham described the strength of imagination. The author mentioned the title of the book which he hadn't read, but the title stimulates his fancy. In such a journey he could imagine himself being in Russia among its great forests of birch and it's white, domed churches where the wide Volga flows and bearded men in rough sheepskin coats sit drinking. When his eyes fall on a piece of porcelain and he felt smell the acrid odors of China.

Honolulu is the capital city of Hawaii; this island has a reputation for an enigmatic place. So, readers can expect to find something mysterious in the story seeing only the title. Maugham justified these expectations. The narrator retold the story which the old captain told him. The story is about love, sorcery, and where good defeats evil.

The story doesn't belong to the genre of fantasy; it is a narration about visiting the island. Thanks to the wonderful skill of the author, the story keeps intrigue up to the end of the narration. Together with the writer, we can have an imaginary tour to the mysterious place - Honolulu.

This is a link to the text of the story:

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sorry Right Number by Stephen King Review

The screenplay "Sorry Right Number" by Stephen King refers to the genre of the stories where creating an atmosphere of suspense is essential. It is important to incorporate something supernatural into everyday routine. This method adds tension to the narration.

The main character of the story, Katie, received a telephone call. The vague voice on the other side of the line pleaded to do something. It wasn't clear what was asked and who was the caller. Katie was sure that it was somebody from her family.

Katie made some calls to her daughter, her mother. They were all right. But her sister didn't answer the telephone call. Her anxiety spread to all of her family, her husband Bill, and her children who were playing in the room.

Bill was a writer. He was busy with his job and he had to pause his work because of this emergency. They decided to go to Katie's sister. Stephen King keeps a reader in suspense, by adding some alarming details in the narration, such as an issue with a locker to the house and so on. Eventually, as it became clear, everything was ok, nothing had happened.

Soon after those events, Bill had a heart attack and family couldn't get him to the hospital, so he died. Katie married again, but she remembered and missed Bill. After many years in definite circumstances (old movie on TV, some items around reminded her the past)  Katie felt something like a feeling of déjà vu. Mechanically, she dialed her old number on the telephone and ... She heard on the other side of the line her own voice. She tried to say that she needs to take Bill to the hospital but her tongue didn't obey her. Katie was able only to say sobbing "Take . . . please take . . . t-t-".

This is a horror story where a fright comes not from gory scenes. Here ordinary people do ordinary things until something supernatural happens. Stephen King incorporates very few creepy details into the plot which made the thriller based on the narration.

Here is the text of the story:

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Audition by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh Review

The short story "Audition" by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh was published in the 2018th issue of the magazine "The New Yorker". The story was written from the first side; the narrator told them about his experience of working in the subdivision of the construction company where his father was a vice-president.

The narrator was nineteen, he dreamt about becoming an actor. He pretended to play a role of a simple employee in the company. He kept secret who his father was. He tried to approximate the speech patterns of his co-workers—the softened consonants and the dropped articles, not pronouncing hard “k”s, “x”s, or “f ”s.

The narrator worked with a guy named Duncan Dioguardi, who was his age but looked ten years older, and who liked to order the narrator like "put this here, put that there". The narrator imagined that one day in the future he would be performing some version of this role with nuance and veracity, out of shape or not. “What did you draw from to create the character?” the critics would ask him. “Why, from real life,” he would say.

Once Duncan's car had broken down and he had to ask the narrator to give him a lift to his house. There were no reasons to refuse, the narrator had to invite Duncan into his car. It was four o'clock on Saturday. They rode through the heavy traffic jam and they had a lot of time to speak. Duncan told about his experience on the previous jobs, he worked hard, he wanted to achieve success. In exchange, the narrator told about his dream to be an actor.

The author described a very common situation when people being in a restricted area tell about themselves more than they would say in a usual circumstance. The interaction of two people with different worldviews is a very important part of the story. As it became clear after not being successful for the narrator cast (audition), his future and his career were far apart from his expectations. The ordinary life was ahead.

Here is the link to the text of the story: