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:

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Cain by Aleksandr I. Kuprin Review

The short story "Cain" by Russian writer Aleksandr I. Kuprin could be referred to as a genre of moral stories. The main idea here may be related to the Bible's commandment "Thou shall not kill".

The story is about the Captain Markof who was sent by the government to seize a and execute rebels. During the dinner before the execution, "the soldiers cried "Hurrah!" sang songs and danced, but their faces wore a look of stony indifference."

The next day they shot without delay all suspected persons and all those who had no passports. That evening on December 31 after such cruel work the captain Markof had a rest in a room on the half-ruined farm. The sergeant came into the room with a report about the deals that should be done. Finally, he asked what they should do with three locals captured that day. "Shoot them at dawn," interrupted the captain sharply. But sergeant didn't leave the room. He fidgeted from one foot to another, and then said suddenly, with a determined resolution, "the soldiers want to know ... what's to be done with ... the old man?". "Get out!" shouted the captain with sudden anger. The sergeant left the room. The captain remained alone with his thoughts and his sickness. He was ill. He kept the pain inside not showing it to soldiers.

The next morning the three men were brought before Markof and he declared with cynically-eloquent gestures that they would be dealt with as spies. The faces of two of them became pale, but "the old man had only laughed with a certain strange expression of weariness, indifference, and even ... even as it were of gentle condescending compassion towards the captain himself".

The captain returned back to his room. He sat on the bed alone, he was ill, he felt bad. Suddenly he saw a dark figure of the old man in the room. He wasn't a coward but he started up suddenly in mortal terror. He heard the voice, the sound seemed familiar with him. Markof had occasionally heard such voices behind him, voices without color or expression, calling him by his own name.

The author presents in the conversation between Markof and old man, his thoughts about morality, about the history of civilizations. Aleksandr Kuprin put into discussion some difficult questions people face during their lives. The author makes reference to the history of civilizations, he expresses his opinion about restricted time for all social creations.

Eventually, the captain got a report that his order to execute the old man was fulfilled. Markof revealed how ill he was. He said to the sergeant: "That's it, brother ...You must take the command in my place. I ... I ... 'm absolutely tormented by this cursed fever.... And —perhaps—perhaps I may soon be entirely at rest." The author didn't make a conclusion about good and bad, he didn't judge people, he left it for themselves.

This is a link to the text of the story:

Sunday, January 20, 2019

On the Gull's Road by Willa Cathr Review

The reader who starts reading the short story 'On the Gull's Road' written by Willa Cather will probably be impressed by the excellent writing style of this author. Basically, it is a story of love told by the narrator. Twenty years ago he had a journey on a cruise ship from Genoa to New York City.

A recollection of the time he had during the meetings on the ship's deck with a young married woman was kept in his memory forever. They talked about traveling, about Italian cities which they were floating through, and about the places where they had come which were very remarkable. The text creates the feeling for readers of being there; a kind of "effect of presence".

The story doesn't have a happy ending. It left readers with a feeling of nostalgia and, in some cases, recalled the past love: romantic and sincere.

This is a link to the text of the story:

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Invalid’s Story by Mark Twain Review

The main idea of "The Invalid’s Story" by Mark Twain is the power of imagination.

According to the plot, the narrator had to transport the body of his friend who died a day before. The coffin was mistakenly replaced by a box of guns, which was intended to be shipped to a rifle company in Illinois.

As the train moved off, a stranger put a piece of Limburger cheese on the box. Nor the narrator nor the expressman (his name was Thompson) knew about the replacement of the boxes, they were sure that the corpse was inside.

Meanwhile, the expressman made up a tremendous fire in his stove and the Limburger cheese melted. The strong odor spread over the car. It was a smell of the cheese but nobody knew it, all were pretty sure that it was the smell of putrefaction. Thompson tried to suppress the smell by burning other staff such as chicken feathers, dried apples, tobacco leaves, rags and old shoes and so on. The smell became unbearable.

The narrator and Thompson tried to catch some fresh air but because of the cold weather (it was winter), it wasn't a good idea. Finally, the narrator got a fever. Unconscious, he spent many days in the hospital, and only after losing his health, being already an invalid, he knew that instead of the corpse there was a box of guns with him.

Mark Twain described the strength of self-suggestion in a humorous manner. This feature of human character is universal and it makes the story quite enlightening.

Here is the link to the text of the story:

It is the link to the audio:

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Coast of Leitrim By Kevin Barry Review

The short story 'The Coast of Leitrim' by Irish writer Kevin Barry was published this year in the magazine 'The New Yorker'. The story is about the loneliness of individuals and love, about personal phobias and social issues.

The main character is a man, Seamus Ferris, who lived alone in the cottage which he inherited after his uncle passed away. He decided that he had fallen in love with a Polish girl, Katherine, who worked at a café in the town. It was very difficult for him to start a conversation with her, he didn't dare to speak with her. Instead, he found out her name and made some inquiries about her on the Internet. He found her Instagram account and saw the pictures she posted there. In his imagination, he saw himself with his passion and love as Don Quixote from the classic novel of Cervantes. She would be definitely a sensitive and nice person, he thought.

Once he started a conversation. “Do you want to go out with me sometime?”, he said. “That will be fine,” she replied. “When is this happening?”. They drove to his cottage, she stayed with him for a night and they started to live together.

During the time when they were together, Seamus went through many phobias related to the relationships between men and women. He became fixated in thoughts and deeds on the negative. Giving freedom his imagination, he listed his flaws, real and invented. He focused on the excessively thick hair on her knees and he pretended that he liked it and so on.

The tone of the narration in the story is monotonous and the narration had a distance to it. in turn the tone and narration can be said to reflect the place where the events happen and the title, 'The Coast of Leitrim'. He suggested to stop their relationships, she left him and came back to Poland, he moved to Poland and found her ... These are a sequel of actions which happened in the story.

It is not a love story, it is rather the story about two lonely people who go with the stream along the Coast of Leitrim…

Here is the link to the story: