Sunday, October 21, 2018

How To Talk To Girls At Parties by Neil Gaiman Review

The story 'How To Talk To Girls At Parties' by Neil Gaiman was nominated in 2007 for the Hugo Award. It means that the story was recognized as one of the best examples of contemporary sci-fiction work. The story includes some elements of sci-fiction, although the elements of fantasy and comics are more noticeable.

Primarily, the story expressed the feelings of young boys toward aliens for them: girls of their age. The plot is presented as a narration of memories which the main character recollected: what happened thirty years ago when he was sixteen.

Two boys were going to participate in the party.  The narrator felt very uncomfortable in communication with girls and he tried to fix it. He thought about girls the same as aliens who came to the earth from another planet. He thought about the controversy of awareness since they grew up together and they became so different. Let's look at how it was written in the story:

"... when you start out as kids you're just boys and girls, going through time at the same speed, and you're all five, or seven, or eleven, together. And then one day there's a lurch and the girls just sort of sprint off into the future ahead of you, and they know all about everything, and they have periods and breasts and makeup and God-only-knew-what-else -- for I certainly didn't. The diagrams in biology textbooks were no substitute for being, in a very real sense, young adults."

As it appeared in the story two boys mistakenly came to another party where they met real aliens. It was becoming gradually clear, the girls there were really strange: one girl had six fingers on her hand, the next girl spoke in a very vague manner and so on.

It is remarkable what one girl said about poetry, "We knew that it would soon be over, and so we put it all into a poem, to tell the universe who we were, and why we were here, and what we said and did and thought and dreamed and yearned for. We wrapped our dreams in words and patterned the words so that they would live forever, unforgettable. Then we sent the poem as a pattern of flux, to wait in the heart of a star, beaming out its message in pulses and bursts and fuzzes across the electromagnetic spectrum, until the time when, on worlds a thousand sun systems distant, the pattern would be decoded and read, and it would become a poem once again."

The metaphorical, even philosophical meaning differentiates this story and makes it universal. There is a film with the same title based on the plot of the story. Production of this movie focused on the youth movement; punk in this case. Every reader can find in the story something remarkable. It is why the story was recognized as a winner of reader's sympathies.

This is a link to the text of the story:

Monday, October 15, 2018

August Heat by W. F. Harvey Review

The short story 'August Heat' by W. F. Harvey represents a certain type of mystical genre. The artist intentionally drew a portrait of the man whom he never saw. The man from the picture was a master of monuments who wrote the name of this artist with a day of his death (today) on this monument. He never met this artist.

These two main characters were faced with something inevitable and it seemed that it happened at the end of the story.
Here is the link to the text of the story:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

“What do fish have to do with anything?” by Avi Review

The story 'What do fish have to do with anything' written by an American author, Edward Irving Wortis, better known by the pen name Avi, is dedicated to readers of a young age. The schools include this story in the study-books for the seventh grade.

The main character, the teenage-boy, tries to figure out how to cope with unhappiness. He sees his mother who is unhappy because his dad has left the family. Before the time of narration, he saw his father who lost his job. The boy found the cure to unhappiness in the phrase of a homeless man. This man said, “What a person needs is always more than they say".

The author gave readers this vague phrase to think about it along with a few messages related to moral choice for a young generation.
This is a link to the text of the story:

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Dry September by William Faulkner Review

William Faulkner wrote this story about life in the South of the US. The author described a severe living condition there when the weather in that year was especially harsh. The plot reflects a rough relationship in a society. People might be unjust to others and very cruel. Faulkner gave a relevant title for the story - 'Dry September'.

The author raises in the story racial problems in the American South. He explores the motivation: what makes people so cruel and what differs a mob from a previously friendly group of people. Although the writing style of William Faulkner is relatively difficult for reading, his prose gives readers the unforgettable feeling of time and place in the narration.

This is a link to the text of the story:

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Rain by William Somerset Maugham Review

The story 'Rain' was written by famous British writer William Somerset Maugham. It discloses the belief which is often disguised in the illusion of a decent appearance.

The author describes the journey of a family of missionaries and their unforeseen stop on a remote island near Australia. They had to leave with a light-minded young woman, Ms. Thompson. She attracted the sailors, organized parties. Her style of behavior led her to prison.

The most strong missionary, Mr. Davidson used his influence for the island's governor to send her to San-Francisco, actually to prison. Finally, Mr. Davidson appeared to be tempted by Ms.Thompson. The author chose not to mention what really happened. Ultimately Mr. Davidson committed suicide. In the last lines of the story, the girl cried, "‘You men! You filthy, dirty pigs! You're all the same, all of you. Pigs! Pigs!'. The other main character of the story, the missionary Dr. Macphail gasped. He understood.

Maugham described an everyday routine which these two families lived in quite thoroughly. It made the story longer than usual short story’s format. But this strategy allowed the author to show how striking the difference between people’s words and actions could be.

This is a link to the text of the story:

The Beauty of Moscow Autumn

CNN listed Moscow, Russia as a top tourist destination for visiting in the autumn. This picture which I took today on the  Vorobyevskaya Embankment of Moscow River proves this statement.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Action Will Be Taken by Heinrich Boll Review

"Action Will Be Taken" is a short story written by Nobel Prize laureate, German writer Heinrich Boll. The story belongs to the genre of satire. The narrator told the story of his working in Alfred Wunsiedel's factory.

He started the story with the statement that, "By nature, I am inclined more to pensiveness and inactivity than to work" but as it appeared, he was the only one who understood the tragedy of being there.

The slogan "Action Will Be Taken" was used by the characters of the story everywhere. They used to show for the public their loyalty to the specific social values. The narrator accepted it. In the last part of the story, when the owner of the factory, Wunsiedel, declared “let's have some action!”, the narrator delayed with an answer. This is what happened next:
"Wunsiedel, who seldom raised his voice, shouted at me: “Answer! Answer, you know the rules!” And I answered, under my breath, reluctantly, like a child who is forced to say: I am a naughty child. It was only by a great effort that I managed to bring out the sentence: “Action will be taken.”

It was late, Wunsiedel was already dead. The narrator participated in his funeral as a mourner and mourning became his new job.

The story gives a good subject for discussion about the social problems, an attitude of the individual for the life and so on. The ability of the author to present a plot with a great sense of humor added motivation to read it.

This is the link to the text of the story:

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Debarking by Lorrie Moore --- Review

The short story 'Debarking' by Lorrie Moore was published in the magazine the New Yorker. This story exhibits a kind of criteria of a recognizable writing style. Although true, it also should be mentioned that the story creates a depressing mood.

The story is about a divorced man who felt lost in his life. When he established a new relationship with an unmarried woman, it was presented in the story as a routine process. He didn't want marriage but he did it anyway.

The main character stayed unhappy with this life choice. His image is very recognizable. The author made the story memorable, even the plot doesn't lead us to a happy ending.

This is.a link to the text of the story:

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Reversible by Courttia Newland --- Review

'Reversible' written by the contemporary British writer Courttia Newland presented a story in reverse chronological order from the end to beginning. The plot tells the story of one day in a young man’s life. Newland writes about the main character’s everyday routines (usual morning, drinking coffee, leaving home and so on). As it appeared it was the last day of his life. From the beginning of the story, we find out that he was shot accidentally by the police.

The author used a technique of presenting the plot in opposite order. The first scene describes a dead body. The last paragraph describes a careless morning which he had.

This method which was called in the title as 'reversible' allows readers to look for the plot from a different point of view. The inevitable flowing of time was an important idea that Courttia Newland provided. The story is a little bit complicated for reading but rather remarkable.
Here is the link with an additional information about the story:

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving --- Review

'The Devil and Tom Walker' by Washington Irving is an interpretation of the legend about Faust, who sold his soul to the devil. The plot was taken from 16th century Europe and staged in 17th century USA.

The motive of this deal with the devil was the same as always - money. The main character, Tom Walker met the devil a few miles from Boston Massachusetts, in a wooded swamp or morass. The first proposal of the devil to become a slave trader was dismissed by Tom Walker, but the offer to start a usurious business was accepted.

After a while, Tom Walker became a notorious figure in Boston. He was cruel to the debtors and the devil was satisfied by his service. Nevertheless, Tom Walker started thinking about atonement for his egregious sins. He even carried the Bible with him, but the devil took him unawares and send him to hell.

The remarkable distinguishing feature of the story is the mixture of old legend with the contemporary times of the author. Washington Irving mentioned in the story current places and events of his time. The story is a subject for study in schools because the topic about the conflict between kindness and evil is an eternal topic for discussion.

Here is the link to the text of the story:

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street Teleplay by Rod Serling Review

“The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” appeared on TV in 1960 as an episode of the series of “The Twilight Zone”. The author of the film Rod Serling was one of the most successful TV-producers in the USA.  

The film began with a peaceful scene of life in a small American town. The inhabitants were busy with everyday deals when something like a meteorite appeared in the air.  The power suddenly turns off and all appliances stopped working. Moreover, the motors in the cars didn't work.

All citizens of the town crowded together on the street. Two men decided to go downtown on foot. The boy stopped them saying that if aliens had done it, they would not allow anybody to leave the town. The aliens would be like humans: for instance, mother, father, and kids, but they are not really human. Although the town dwellers didn't believe in what the boy had said, they looked precisely at each other.

Their doubts were raised after the car of one person started working. One person from the mob remembered that he saw how the owner of this car went out of the house during nighttime and looked to the star. It was a turning point of the teleplay; Rod Serling wanted to show how the group of people turns to a mob.

There were other episodes when another and another person became suspected as an alien. The real aliens were shown in the last scene.  They said that they didn’t need to use a weapon to defeat of people, the people could do it to each other.

This teleplay has a very high rating on, 9.0. It gives the audience "food for thought".

This is the link to the text of the teleplay:

This is a link to the video of teleplay:

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Two Words by Isabel Allende --- Analysis

"Two Words" by Isabel Allende is an emotional story which belongs to the genre of magic realism. The most well-known writer of this genre is Gabriel Garcia Marcus. His famous novel is "One Hundred Years of Solitude" was also about South American history and people.

The story started with describing a struggling people based on the example of one girl, Belisa Crepusculario, who survived extremely severe conditions of life. She paid her last money for studying, reading and writing. She made it her life’s profession. She made a living by writing letters to people traveling across the country. They included official letters to authorities or the courts, letters to customers’ relatives who lived in other parts of the country, love letters and so on. Belisa gave as an additional gift for people who used her works - two secret words. The person who got these words kept them in secret, and in times of difficulty, they helped the person cope with problems.

While she was traveling in a remote village, she was captured by rebels. She was tied by ropes and delivered to the head of the rebels - the Colonel. The rebels were known among the population for their cruel acts towards the people. Belisa was horrified by what happened, but when she saw the leader of the rebels, strangely, she felt sympathy for him.

The Colonel said that he was going to run for President in the next election and asked Belisia to prepare him a speech for the people. She did, and it was very persuasive and emotional. The Colonel was thankful to  Belisia for this service, and when she suggested giving him two secret words as a gift, he agreed as he didn't want to be impolite to her.

The speech was met with great success. The people believed that the Colonel was able to lead the country to a bright future. However, it seemed that the dreams of the Colonel were out of reach. His helper, El Mulato was worried about it and they captured and he delivered Belisia to the Colonel again.

El Mulato led his prisoner before the Candidate.
"I brought this witch here so you can give her back her words, Colonel," El Mulato said, pointing the barrel of his rifle at the woman's head. "And then she can give you back your manhood." The Colonel and Belisa Crepusculario stared at each other, measuring one another from a distance. The men knew then that their leader would never undo the witchcraft of those accursed words, because the whole world could see the voracious-puma eyes soften as the woman walked to him and took his hand in hers."

The story gives readers lots of positive emotions, it is very well written, it has a high rating.

This is a link to a text of the story:

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sparrows by K A Abbas Review

The short story "Sparrows" was written by famous Indian writer K A Abbas. It is a touching story of life a man who was cruel to his relatives and other people. He was the most hated person in the village. He was abandoned by his two sons and later by his wife.

Living alone, he noticed a nest of sparrows in his house. He started to care about the family of birds, he even gave two baby sparrows the names of his sons: Bundu and Nuru. The attitude of the town dwellers toward him changed dramatically when he became ill and people heard how he said to himself, "Oh Bundu, Oh Nuru, who will feed you when I am gone?". People called his wife and sons to return home to look after him.

The last paragraph summed up the story of his life:
"Next morning when Rahim Khan's wife, anxious and weeping, came with her sons, a group of neighbors collected in sympathy. The door was locked from the inside, and in spite of loud knocking, no one opened it. When they broke their way in they found the large and gaunt frame Rahim lying in the brooding silence of the room, broken only by the fluttering of  four sparrows."

The story is instructive and speaks to the nature of life.

Here is a link to the text of the story:

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

French Joe by Somerset Maugham Review

The story "French Joe" written by Somerset Maugham is short, but the plot encompasses the whole life of the person met by the narrator on the Thursday island.

As we can guess from the title, the name of the main character is Joe and he is French. He told the narrator that he was born on the island of Corsica in a noble family. He served in the Army and participated in military campaigns in Europe. He joined the revolutionaries and was sentenced and was sent to Australia.

He ran away from the ship in Melbourne. His next adventures were described in these few lines in the story:
"He cooked, taught French, swept streets, worked in the gold mines, tramped, starved, and at last found his way to New Guinea. Here he underwent the most astonishing of his experiences, for drifting into the savage interior, and they are cannibals there still, after a hundred desperate adventures and hair-breadth escapes he made himself king of some wild tribe."

The story is written in an easy for reading style, as the other works of Somerset Maugham.

This is the link to the story:

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Open Boat by Stephen Crane Review

"The Open Boat" was written by American writer Stephen Crane in the nineteenth century. The writing style of the author was remarkable because of his extraordinary imagination. It was based on the real story which happened to Stephen Crane.

In 1896 he traveled on the ship. The ship was damaged and the author, with a few survivors, escaped on the boat. Not all people from this group stayed alive. An unpredictable fate and a cruel nature were described in the story in the genre of naturalism or realism. Even the happy ending for the narrator didn't change a tense mood of the narration; the story is written well but not for easy reading.

Here is the link for the text of the story:

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Names/Nombres By Julia Alvarez Review

The story was about the adaptation of immigrants to American life. It was represented by the narrator, a young girl, who came with her family to the USA from the Dominican Republic.

The immigration officer called them differently and they were afraid to correct him. The narrator’s classmates called the narrator in the English manner. The immigrants accepted their new names. They even started to be ashamed by the original pronunciation of the names. As the author said "I burned with shame whenever they singled me out as a ‘foreigner,’ a rare, exotic friend."

Through the topic about the pronunciation of names, the author disclosed the process of changing mentality and self-identification which the immigrants faced.

Here is the text if the story:

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Smokers by Tobias Wolff --- Summary

In the short story "Smokers" by Tobias Wolff, the narrator told about his experience of studying in a school, Choate, and living in a dormitory. The narrator noticed his future classmate, Eugene in the train on the way to the school when he struck between doors with his two enormous suitcases. His appearance was unusual. As the narrator said, "His head was too big for his lanky body, and his skin was oily. He put me in mind of a seal."

Eugene sat into a coach where the narrator sat and started talking. His told about his success in studies and sport, about the future life in the school where they were going to study. The narrator listened to Eugene and thought, "I knew the world Eugene came from. I came from that world myself, and I wanted to leave it behind. I wanted to know boys whose fathers ran banks and held Cabinet office and wrote books. I wanted to be their friend and go home with them on vacation and someday marry one of their sisters, and Eugene Miller didn't have much of a place in these plans.". At the end of a journey, Eugene suggested the narrator to room with him. The narrator had the other plans, so he answered that he had a friend at Choate and he'd probably be rooming with him. "That's okay," Eugene said. "Maybe next year"

The narrator's roommate became a boy who described himself as a Nazi. After a while, that troublemaking boy left the college and the narrator started living alone in the room. Meanwhile, Eugene roomed with a boy named Talbot. Talbot's family was very rich. The narrator dreamed to say sometimes casually mentioning Talbot "We're just good friends". So when Talbot said "Let's go have a weed", the narrator agreed with no doubts even he never smoked before.

Smoking at college was strongly forbidden. Eugene, Talbot, and narrator hid in the remote place and smoked. Talbot said a silly joke about Marlboro and the narrator guffawed although the joke was lame.

The narrator saw Talbot several times next week but he barely nodded to him. But on Friday night he asked the narrator if he wanted to play tennis the next morning. The narrator was very glad, felt the complete self-satisfaction to get this invitation. However Talbot missed this appointment and when the narrator reminded of it, he showed no interest.

Before the Christmas, the narrator had a conversation with Eugene about the place for the vacation. Eugene said that he was invited to spend Christmas with Talbot and his family. The narrator was very surprised, even shocked by this news, he was jealous very much.

After the Christmas, the narrator and Talbot spend more time in the basketball-hall. However, they sat on the bench most of the time, Talbot because of an ankle injury, the narrator because he was not good in a game.

The narrator wrote a few stories and they were published in the school literary journal. The narrator never mentioned Talbot about it, but somehow he got the idea the narrator was a writer. Once Talbot asked the narrator to read the essay he wrote for which he received the lowest score possible. The task was to describe the most interesting person you know. The narrator read the essay. The writing was awful, but what really shocked the narrator was the absolute lack of interest Talbot about the person he described. Eventually, the narrator wrote for Talbot the essay about imagined character and this writing had a great success.

The school organized the bulletin board where students could write a notice of those students who wished to room together. The narrator went immediately to Talbot's dorm. There was only Eugene there. Eugene welcomed the narrator friendly and asked about if he wanted to room with him. This is the dialog written in the story:
"Oh, well, you know, I sort of promised this other guy."
Eugene nodded, still smiling. "Fair enough. I already had someone ask me, I just thought I'd check with you first. Since we didn't have a chance to room together this year.

Later, the narrator asked Talbot whom we planned to room with. The answer shocked the narrator, it was Eugene. He told Talbot that he would not be able to help him with writing, he was not going to play basketball anymore.

Soon after that, Eugene was caught by the school administration smoking. He was expelled from the school. When Talbot asked the narrator to room with him, he refused.

The story includes mostly dialogues and thoughts of the main character. The narrator is sincere in describing his thoughts and motives even if they characterized not the best features of his personality. Readers can admit that the future Talbot wouldn't be bright because of his indifference to the people and absence of the interest in life. On the contrary, the future of the narrator looks good. He has a talent for writing and he is able to be self-critical. All personages in the story well recognizable and it makes the story interesting and instructive.

This is the link to the text of the story: