Sunday, March 31, 2019

Acceptance Journey by Mary Gaitskill Review

The short story "Acceptance Journey" by Mary Gaitskill was published in 2018 in the magazine "The New Yorker".

According to the plot, Carol, a divorced woman fifty-four years old, got a temporary job in a small town. The author highlighted the feeling of loneliness of her showing some attempts to establish relationships with her neighbors. Carol saw a billboard offering debt resolution and gym memberships. The slogan of this advertising “The Acceptance Journey” brought Carol's attention. The picture of well-looking people hugging one another stuck on her mind.

The idea of loneliness and desire of the woman to go out from the circle of her phobias was implemented in the sequence events like visiting a local church, meetings with neighbors, changing letters with a small girl about Christmas and so on. The story puts some dilemmas for readers and suggests to think about them.

Here is the link to the text of the story:

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Crucible by Arthur Miller Review

The drama, "The Crucible," by Arthur Miller is based on real events which happened in the city of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. It was a witch trial where accusations were enough to accuse people of performing witchcraft and to sentence them to death. The author studied the records from the court, what the real people said, so the characters in the story are real. Arthur Miller presented the atmosphere of the Salem witch trials, which made neighbors turn against neighbor, the mood of a time when no one was safe.

The drama has also more modern connotation. This part of American political history in the 1940s and 1950s was characterized later as McCarthyism. The term refers to U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy who initiated political repressions as well as a campaign spreading fear of Communist influence on American institutions.  A congressional committee was conducting hearings to identify suspected Communists. Miller was called before the congressional committee and questioned about his activities with the American Communist Party. Miller refused to implicate others.

One of the characters of the story, a woman who was accused of witchcraft, named as her helpers all women she knew. They were accused and sentenced to death. It happened many times in the Middle Ages and it took place in a relatively modern society. The mass hysteria with help of mass media is able to turn the peaceful citizens, yesterday's neighbors, to mob.

The drama is deductive and well written, it's good for playing on the stage and just for reading.

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: