The Birdcage Archives

Thursday 28 April 2011

The Short Story Review (No. I)

“Reginald,” by Saki – From “The Complete Saki,” by Saki

There certainly is a reason why Saki – born Hector Hugh Munro; is often compared to Oscar Wilde. His way of finely judged narratives know just when and where to make the punch, and when to tell a joke. The eponymous character of Saki’s story “Reginald,” is the kind of person that someone such as myself, would find great similarities with. The character Reginald takes great delight in this story in popping the pleasant balloon of a garden party’s atmosphere. Convinced by the unnamed narrator, to go to the party, Reginald agrees – after some convincing, the character goes. However it’s most interesting because, the unnamed narrator will soon learn that convincing Reginald to go was much more of a mistake then he can apologize for.

This is the kind of character, who enjoys sitting back, and watching a house burn while everyone else is running around, trying to put it out. Instead of going to grab some water, this kind of person, grabs a bag of marshmallows, and cooks them over the house engulfed in flames.

One cannot help but wonder, if Reginald shares some traits with his creator? Saki was born in the late eighteen-hundreds of the Victorian Era, and witnessed the full blown counter-balance of the Edwardian Era. It’s a wonder if Saki was satirising the lingering attempts at keeping Victorian Era morality in its place in society, or if he mocked the ideas of the Edwardian Era, which were surely shocking to the older generations with a flamboyant king.

Maybe Saki was just poking fun at both the contradicting Era’s. Picture the Victorian Era a time of the corset, rigid clothes, and in my opinion very stuck up people. The Edwardian Era then came along and pretty much abandoned all the previous concepts of the Victorian Era. The restrictive, bear trap corsets were forced to be modified in the Edwardian Era, when the upper class took a much more interest in the leisure sports – and after a while the everyday wear of the corsets were abandoned. Saki certainly has a view of human nature. In this particular story his septic view of the high class society is certainly something of the mock of his less then heroic protagonist heroes. Then again, protagonists of comedic sketches, vignette, short stories, novellas, and novels, from my knowledge are not the knight in shining arm. Truly in this case the protagonist of the story “Reginald,” (also named Reginald) is the kind of man who is not only perverse, self-absorbed, politically incorrect, impolite, and above all else free in his ways of not following the correct way of aspects of life – especially at a garden party.

These kinds of stories would be seen in today’s world would be seen as greatly politically incorrect – well he is quite politically incorrect, however as a reader, I don’t recall ever reading anything comical that is politically correct or even watching any stand-up comedian who every said anything that didn’t piss someone off. Saki certainly is one of those authors that would piss off the modern person, who was a devote person who believed in the idea’s and teachings of being politically correct. Saki may be seen by maybe seen as “Reactionary,” by many in his time, but I think he was a comic genius and quite hilarious who has quite the memorable quotes I’m sure, that would both shock, offend, and make one laugh.


“Umbrella,” by Yasunari Kawabata. From “Palm-Of-The-Hand Stories,” by Yasunari Kawabata.

There are stories, that the titles grab the attention of the reader, with curiosity. “Umbrella,” for me, is one of those stories. Its title seemed so normal and strange, that I decided to read it. There are other odder named stories in this collection, like: “A Saw and Childbirth,” and “The Incident of the Dead Face.” Yet “Umbrella,” was a more interesting story to read first and foremost. When reading and looking through short story collections, the reader is playing a game of darts in the dark. Sometimes the dart hits, and sometimes it misses the board completely.

For some reason or another, this story brings back such reminisces of bitter sweet memories. Memories of a time that has passed away and cannot be regained. But instead it is admired. It’s like a photograph itself. And in this case this memory of mine is a memory of a particular photograph. There was a photograph that was kept on the fridge many, many years ago. Probably after a childhood eye surgery that has not particularly changed much in the quality of this life. The photograph was held in place, by a magnet. In the shape of a dinosaur perhaps – there was a lot of dinosaur items in our house when my childhood self was roaming around; or was it the old (now since fallen into disrepair) butterfly magnet? Either way, it was one of those two magnets, and it held this simple little square developed photograph (this was before digital cameras) and on that photo is a little girl, and a little boy, asleep on a bus. Their purple and green wind breaks of spring done up. Their little feet with their little snow boats did not even touch the floor of the school bus. Their little heads resting half way between each other, as they slept.

“Umbrella,” by Yasunari Kawabata gives me much of that same impression. That memory from the depths of my own memory slowly comes to. Rising out of the inky dark tar pits of my disorganized mental filling cabinet.

“Umbrella,” by Yasunari Kawabata also concerns two children. A boy and a girl. Who are going to go get their photograph taken, because the boy’s father in civil service is being transferred. As Yasunari Kawabata writes it becomes apparent, that both of the children feel a great deal of affection for each other. Though both are too shy to make any pass or take action on these feelings, and are unable to truly live up to those feelings.

There is something about Yasunari Kawabata’s writing that I just enjoy to read. There is the beautiful subtle beauty to his prose. Every word is a whisper. Every sentence as haunting as the last. Each sentence performs so well, together in the story, and also individually. You cannot read a review of one of Yasunari Kawabata’s book without reading how much praise he has for his lyrical writing. Read any review about Yasunari Kawabata’s novels and one will certainly find his lyrical abilities being praised.

From the short story “Umbrella,”:

“The spring rain was not enough to make things wet. It was almost as light as fog, just enough to moisten the skin lightly.”

Perhaps not the best example, but such descriptions are found throughout Yasunari Kawabata’s work. Light as mist, that just thinly describe the world around it but not in such detail, that it becomes over barring. Yasunari Kawabata then describes the world, little bit by little bit, and the emotional undercurrents that happen in the story.

“The boy could not offer to hold the umbrella, and the girl could not bring herself to hand it to him. somehow the road now was different from the one that had brought them to the photographer’s. The two had suddenly become adults. They returned home feeling as though they were a married couple --- if only aver this incident with the umbrella.”

Which is quite true. That photograph has since disappeared somewhere. Maybe in a photo album or maybe it has been picked up by the wind. No matter the little boy in the photograph and the little girl in the photograph are also faced with the same dilemma that the two characters in Yasunari Kawabata’s story “Umbrella,” have been faced with. They have gone down separate roads. They have parted ways. This is what makes Yasunari Kawabata’s story so touching. Is that it hits in a memory somewhere else. Like good literature should.


“Dimensions,” by Alice Munro – From “Too Much Happiness,” by Alice Munro

I remember seeing Alice Munro on youtube in conversation with Diana Athill. This little woman, reminded me of my great grandmother – who passed away earlier this year, in January. This soft spoken elegant and wise woman (though Miss Munro may disagree with me on that) sat there in that chair. Her soft eyes, just comfortable and scanning the crowd. One does need to confess certain things. As a Canadian and hopeful want to be writer; there are a few Canadian writers that are just godlike. One of them of course being is Margaret Atwood. Then there is Robertson Davies. But the dear, sweet and humble not to mention modest author Alice Munro, is also one of them. Her latest collection “Too Much Happiness,” is one of the short story collections that has been chosen for this experiment on the blog. All three of these Canadian authors have also been noted for having a very strong sense of identity with a genre much like William Faulkner’s “Southern Gothic.” Except in the case of Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood, and of course Alice Munro, it is renamed “Southern Ontario Gothic.”

Reading “Dimensions,” the first story in the collection “Too Much Happiness,” one gets a certain feeling or understanding of what “Southern Ontario Gothic,” is. But make no mistake. Make no mistake indeed; this short story is not something of pulp fiction, or sensationalism or borderline sentimentalism. In fact this story has no supernatural effect at all in it. There are no ghosts, spectres or will-o'-the-wisps running around in thick wintery shadow like forests. No creaking house that with a long and ark family history. But do not be fooled. Though Alice Munro has tossed out these supernatural elements, the eerie feeling that something is not right can certainly be seen.

The tone of this short story is muted, in a lot of emotion. There is, certainly a lot of feelings of emotional awkwardness. The kind of emotional awkwardness that one would expect to find when placed in a strange situation. It’s like watching a dark little eight legged nightmare of a spider, scurrying across the tiled floor in the kitchen, and yet one finds themselves to paralyzed to move or take some transgressive action towards the creature’s life. Certainly the reason for the emotional coldness is explained, eventually but the leading up to the explanation – which for some who like a lot of action, would be seen as anti-climatic but for me it was a great touching way of writing; is what is the greatest part of the story. The minute details of the mundane life of the main character – past and present; are what makes this short story quite interesting to me. Alice Munro short story – the first short story that I have read by her; is not melodramatic or even boring in its details of the life of the character. Describing the game of the third bus as the main character Doree played by reading the signs – advertising, street, monster signs et cetera; Miss Munro describes how the character can get different words from one single word. Using many examples like the word “Coffee,” for instance.

For some this detail may be annoying; yet for me, it becomes more an interest, because it allows a glimpse into the character’s psyche. No one just sits anywhere thinking of nothing, or vacantly starring out of the window vacantly. Allowing the character to play this game, or thinking of certain mundane details like, what needs to be picked up grocery wise, or what should the character have for dinner. Such details are important to me, like descriptions, and a beautiful unique style, but also plot. Miss Alice Munro delivers that quite nicely.

The style and work of this story takes place in the present and the past. There certainly is a feeling of uneasiness. Something had happened. Something from the distant past? Something fort the not so distant past? But there is a feeling that something had certainly happened. That much can be distinguished by the main characters visits to another character by the name of Mrs. Sands. These visits are not visits of friendship though. They are business like, and there is a feeling that something besides having idle chit chat over coffee is being discussed. It becomes apparent that Mrs. Sands is a therapist.

Things don’t end there either. There is also the odd and something not quite right about him man in the present and the man in past, who goes by the name of Lloyd. Not mention the warm hearted and friendly character Maggie of the past. But also the enigmatic characters Sasha, Barbara Ann, and Dimitri. Yet they all come together eventually. As if they are all stuck in the same house or motel, in different rooms – past and present; and Doree the chamber maid caters to them all. Finally they all come together. The past and the present though presented in non-chronological order, finally comes together slowly and disturbingly. But Miss Munro does not present it in a shocking or disgusting manner. The entire situation and how the main character Doree deals with it just happens. Just like life, the pieces will forever remain broken. No matter of gluing or fixing or putting back together will change that. All that happens is the characters move on with their lives. Doree seeks the help or takes the help that is given to her. But she will forever be that broken, and muted emotional creature.

A first story by Alice Munro and there is no disappointment in expectations, which were held. Then again, even if there were no expectations or high expectations or low expectations would it have really mattered? Alice Munro writes in a simple, clear and detailed language. As England has the Nobel Laureate for Literature of 2007 Doris Lessing, Canada has the great and spectacular author of the short fiction form, of Alice Munro. Though what is truly envious is just how simple and effortless her writing is. Oh to have talent.


“Tonight is a Favor to Holly,” by Amy Hempel – From “The Collected Stories,” by Amy Hempel – Section: “Reasons to Live.”

Amy Hempel is one of the remaining authors of the 1980’s, who wrote in the “American Short Story Renaissance,” that was headed by (probably unofficially) by Raymond Carver. Amy Hempel has influenced such authors as Rick Moody author of the novel “Ice Storm,” which was then turned into a movie directed by Ang Lee; and also influenced the author Chuck Palahniuk, the author of the 1990’s cult phenomenon “Fight Club,” which was later adapted into a film directed by David Fincher. She’s in good company so far.

“Tonight is a Favor to Holly,” is the second story in the collection’s first section “Reasons to Live,” and the reason why this particular story was chosen over the first one, was based on the length of the two. The longer the story the more there is to work with. Which is why “Tonight is a Favor to Holly,” was chosen.

The New York Times, had an interesting article titled “New Voices and Old Values,” which presents an interesting look into some fiction – and in this case Amy Hempels. These age old drama’s of the personal characteristics of the woman, shows the changing times, and the alienation and isolation that comes with old values in a much more different and contemporary world.

Once upon a time – that never sounds good does it? – Neither does that other age old starter that many elderly people use: when I was your age. But thinking back on those times, there was a certain difference in their lives, quality, experience et cetera. Women were expected to get pregnant and have children, and raise families. Men were expected to have jobs, make money and provide food for the family. But that had all changed. That had all changed indeed. Women are now in work force. Women are high ranking politicians, and business executives. It is not unheard of to hear that men are stay at home dads.

Amy Hempel’s “Tonight is a Favor to Holly,” particularly strikes a chord on the harp of my entire being (talk about pretentious and sentimental!). For some reason as the reader, I identify myself with Holly. The situation is not entirely hopeless, but it is not full of a lot of hope. There is just a sense that it is a reality. But what’s the point of trying to change that reality, when the next reality could very well be the same, or even a more unsettling thought much worst. It’s not particularly depressing it just becomes a fact of life. The fact that, things just somehow unravelled around the seams, so quietly and slowly that by the time, one notices what is happening, it is far too late to try and stop it.

To describe the mood of this story, its most fitting to say it’s very “grey.” It is subtle and even casually depressing. Events just happen, and all the characters can do is react to them as they come. Then find the best plausible not to mention costly solution.

One particular part of this story struck a very interesting chord. Oh the vibrations still makes my skin fill up with gooseflesh. I’m sure to an onlooker my skin looks like the uncooked, turkey sitting in the cold water of the sink on Christmas day or thanksgiving.

“My job fits right in. I do nothing, it pays nothing but – you guessed it – it’s better than nothing.”

This entire line short, simple, but very impacting describes the story quite well. It is not the best reality. In fact it is not a particularly likeable reality, but the reality of the situation, is that it is better than nothing. That kind of hopeless optimism that just paints the entire story grey. The beach; in which their beach house which both the narrator and Holly rent, becomes grey. The sunsets become dull and emotionless. Everything just becomes a grey reality. A fact of life. A form of abandonment of trying to make any difference in their lives. All forms of youthful arrogance drained like their empty Coke and rum mixed drinks, which they sip as they sit on the beach.

When the characters house is damaged in a mud slide, forcing them to move to the beach house which they wish to leave, there is just a sense of them thinking to themselves: “it’s just temporary,” the kind of acceptance and apathy towards the fact that any hopeful youthful idealism that once had been had, has set into the sand like the sun has set in the horizon. Yet it is not a nihilistic story. There is certainly a feeling of hopelessness but Amy Hempel delivers another fact of reality. A fact of life. The characters just move on. It is all they can do. They just change lanes, and move on towards something that is better.

Reading a story that parallels your life. That touches the moment in which one finds themselves in that exact situation, there certainly is a sense of one is not alone. But it doesn’t change the situation. The grey hopeless optimism remains. The reality sits in the reflection and stares back. Yet all anyone can do is really just change lanes.


“Between the Conceits,” by Will Self – From “Grey Area,” by Will Self.

Will Self, is the bad boy of English Literature. His short stories and novels are known for their grotesque, fantastical, and satirical elements. “Between the Conceits,” is certainly of no exception to this. Certainly it is grotesque in some manner. Fantastical yes. Satirical, was a bit lost on me. Then again, the modern humour of the world is sometimes usually lost on me.

There are eight people in London, declares the unnamed narrator. Who however quickly takes the remark back, and explains in depth what he – that is I am to assume it is a male; what exactly he means by their only being eight people in London. This is quite interesting isn’t it? There are eight people in London who matter – then the rest just don’t.

The unnamed narrator describes this thoroughly and quite extremely really. He describes the game of chess or go – as he describes it; and the political motivations and deceptions, that each of these eight people (himself included) play in order to maintain some form of power, or show some goal or to know everything; maybe to have some order; other the act on some ferocious religious concept; and yet maybe they are just doing the best they can, for the good of the people. It is a hard call. Partly because this narrator is not a reliable narrator at all.

Though the narrator does state in the first page of this story: “I can declare with some authority that there simply isn’t a snobbish bone in my entire body.” This is quite a contradiction truly, because this unnamed narrator speaks with slight bit arrogance in his voice. The narrator has mere contempt for another one of the eight people by the name of Dooley. Not to mention he does look down on another set of characters by the name of the Bollam sisters. Not to mention that I don’t doubt there are a bit of jealousy with the other character Lechmere. The reason why there maybe some jealousy with the other character Lechmere, is because there certainly is a sense of resent on how the character Lechmere is left quite a bit of money, and apparently lives quite happily, while the narrator is stuck in his own house, taking care of his mother who is pushing on ninety.

There is a love interest with Lady Bob. There is the neutral Purves, who has an almost obsessive desire for a sense of order and practicality as long as there is sentience. The analytical Recorder who is more of an enigma then his name suggests. Then there is the unnamed narrator, whose motives and political standings are as unknown to me as they were at the beginning of the story.

This story to me is something to look at it in an entirely different way. Say there are these eight people in London. Surely one such as myself is not suggesting there are not these eight people in London. Far from it to be exact. But let’s say these three people, are acquaintances, friends, co-workers, love interest, and neighbours of the unnamed narrator.

Now imagine the narrator, so bored with the triviality of his life. He takes care of his mother who is going into her nineties. His entire life is taking care of her. He empties her bed pan – as he states quite firmly there is plenty of that to be done. The narrator then finds some form of relief from the depressing realities of life, by thinking of himself being one of these eight people. A person who pushes and pulls, on the strings of the marionettes of his “people,” that his hands and fingers influence their life.

Truly there is a certain sense of pity for the narrator. A lonely man – considerably old as well; who lives almost in gentle poverty. Whose meals come from “meals on wheels.” Whose most purposeful task in life is emptying the bed pans of his mother. For some reason or another the narrator becomes quite a depressive character. A character of quite pity, yet the way he acts and talks completely gives one the reluctance to give him any sense of pity at all. He is arrogant despite what he says. His nose is quite happily placed up in the air.

Yet there still is a sense of pity given to him. Because his so trivial. It is so meaningless. And pathetic, that his deranged mind, must come up with this fantastical idea that his one of these chosen eight who is play a game of go or chess. That he has the power to influence his people, just the like the other seven have their own people to manipulate. A sad character indeed. But what is worst is he is unlikable, which is part of the charm.

This is my first story that I have read by Will Self. It shows his grotesque elements for sure. It shows his fantastical elements also. There is quite a bit of ironic situations in it. Being honest I look forward to see what Will Self will produce next, in his next story that I read.


“The Dancer,” by Patricia Highsmith – From “The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith,” by Patricia Highsmith – Section: “Little Tales of Misogyny.”

What can be said about Patricia Highsmith. Bitter? Acidic and sour? Rude? Misanthropic? One starts to wonder if there is any pleasant compliment to be said about Patricia Highsmith as a person. Her work also shows a general similarity to her views of the world around her. The world to Patricia Highsmith was a grossly disgusting place. Everything is double natured. The beautiful lovely manicured lawns, and the white picket fences, are all secretly serving some darker purpose. Like impaling your neighbour on the nice white sharpened tips of the fence. While the meat pie that can be smelt cooling on the windowsill, is secretly your neighbour’s cat. The unfortunate accident that happened with Mr. Jones car actually was no accident at all. His wife discovered that he was having an affair and so she cut his breaks. This is the world of Patricia Highsmith. Where everything nice and neatly tied up, truly has a much more sinister side to it.

“Little Tales of Misogyny,” has what got Patricia Highsmith called a “misogynist,” – when really it would have been much more appropriate to call Patricia Highsmith a misanthropic. She despises both genders equally.

“The Dancer,” by Patricia Highsmith is a very short and very simple tale. It however does miss the point entirely. Whatever the point was. Now I hate to leave off with a sour note, with a story that didn’t say tickle my fancy. I am also too tired to go find another one to read and review.

Some authors are great with their short fiction. Yasunari Kawabata himself had stated that the essence of his art was not in his longer novels, but more in his shorter form of fiction. His sparse impressionistic scenes. Alice Munro knows how to work with the short story format. Her work depicts the psychology and lives of woman, effortlessly. Saki in his comical and wonderfully funny works is considered a master of the short form of fiction. Amy Hempel also provides a great exemplary practitioner of the short story. Yet Patricia Highsmith’s work – at least this collection, falls short, of what is expected. Maybe it is this collection. Maybe it is the length. But it falls short. There is nothing there really. Nothing at all. There is no real characterization, psychological insight, absolutely nothing. And yet it provides her own world vision on woman.

How Claudette withholds sex from her dancing partner Rodolphe to wet his appetite. Yet she is s quick to jump into bed with other men. Clients who watch their show, and other patrons. Claudette is the image of what Patricia Highsmith saw in woman. Nothing but sexual appeal. I say this from reading (still reading) the biography of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar. In some ways or another, the dance – rather deadly really; that both the characters perform, is kind of a symbol for the dance that Patricia Highsmith herself performed for those women that she loved, and utterly despised. It’s the dance of sexually charged sadomasochistic performance, which mixed love with her absolute engulfing hatred for others.

Though a terrible story in some ways, it is certainly an interesting glimpse into Patricia Highsmith’s mind. But I would not take it too seriously, really when stating that it is an interesting look into Patricia Highsmith’s mind. When one analyzes stories and paintings and tries to find a piece of the person who created it, they don’t actually find them. Just find themselves, in some way or another, or their own interpretation of what they think the author is like.


Well Gentle Reader, the first “Short Story Review,” is done. I do hope you enjoy it. It is an interesting way to end the blogs of April of 2011. Tune in, sometime in May hopefully to see the next round reviewed.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and Wrong*

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Introduction to The Short Story Review

Hello Gentle Readers

Well it’s happening as promised. It is the first short story review. Now some of you may remember that on August 25 2010 I had reviewed the short story collection by the literary recluse and cult figure Thomas Ligotti’s short story collection, “Teatro Grottesco.” But that was reviewing the entire collection, not the stories necessarily individually. Also we may not have seen the last of Thomas Ligotti’s “Teatro Grottesco,” seeing as it is also a short story collection it may also participate on each stories individual level. That way each story can be examined individually. This is what “The Short Story Review,” is to do. It is to review, a collection of short stories by some authors. One from each of their collections. Lets introduce shall we the players in this experimentation of mine.

There is the Edwardian Era Oscar Wilde author who satirised the “Golden Afternoon,” (the slow and peaceful years in England’s history before the break out of World War I) H.H. Munro or also known as: Saki. His comical are reminiscent of the early Russian master of the short story Anton Chekhov. I look forward to reading these stories.

The next author is a writer who in my limited knowledge picks up the mantle of the realism short stories of the 1980’s short story renaissance in America. This minimalist short story writer or as she prefers to be called miniaturist short story writer constructs very precise and detailed sentences in order to create a touching and moving story. Perhaps one of the most famous short story writers in America of the last three decades is Amy Hempel.

The next author is back in the twentieth century. But not as far back as Saki. The first Japanese author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968 is Yasunari Kawabata, whose subtle prose delicate descriptions, ethereal comparisons with beautiful similes and metaphors; and his mastery of the psychological novel and art form, and also a practitioner of the modernist style of the early twentieth century, in a Japanese setting has earned him the Nobel Prize as well as my readership and from the stories that I have read so far, my admiration.

Where is Canada’s literary scene today without this hushed quiet whispered name of this author? The grandmother of Canadian short fiction, with her warm and heart, gentle laugh, and sweet honesty and always compassionate wisdom. Cynthia Ozick has called her “our Chekhov.” Yes dear gentle reader it is Alice Munro.

Will Self, the satirical humorous and absurd bad boy author of English Literature, is also a formidable author, of short stories. Known for taking an ordinary aspect of the modern world, and then pushing it to its extreme, of absurdity and insanity. Will Self is known for his comical voice, and but I am interested to see his work, and their “bizarre,” style and also to see his comic style and voice.

The last author of short stories is the granddame of psychological thriller, and known as a dark psychological novelist, who is seen in the tradition of authors like Albert Camus, Joseph Conard, Franz Kafka, Andre Gide, and I think probably the most influential author on this authors career Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Yes it is the one and only author Patricia Highsmith.

Here is hoping that the short story collections that have been picked are good. Already I can’t help but think who else would be really good to read. Part of me screams that “The Collected Stories,” of Ivan Bunin would have been lovely to read – and part of me agrees. Ivan Bunin was the first Russian author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature way back in the year of 1933. Then there was the late discovery of the contemporary Russian novelist and short story writer Victor Pelevin who is more of an enigma and abstract now then he was when I had first discovered him. Then there were other authors we are well known for their short stories. Authors like Franz Kafka’s absurd and darkly comic bleak stories of the human struggle. Anton Chekhov probably one of the most renowned short story authors. I considered the practitioner of American “Dirty Realism,” and the head of the American 1980’s short story renaissance Raymond Carver. The cantankerous Charles Bukowski was also a person considered. The Irish man by the name of William Trevor, short stories were also considered. The stories of the mentally ill the madness, and its warped reality in “You Are Not a Stranger Here,” by Adam Haslett. I also considered “Cold Snap,” by Thom Jones – but it was sold out.

One can see there were not a lot of woman writers coming to the top of my mind, and many feminists or woman or anyone really would say that in this particular list the penis is certainly being favoured. However, the entirely ignorant notion that as a reader of fiction (and now in a few cases non-fiction) and also being a man, I do prefer the work of men. The reason why? A lot of woman writers, are sexist and make the divide between their male and female characters quite clear. The gender divide is clearly shown. That the male characters are usually underdeveloped, and that the female characters and their experience are more developed and are given much more attention than that of the men. Now as a male reader, that can become quite a bore after a while, and be seen as rather sexist. But heaven forbid that a man, use the word sexist in any case. However the discovery of the three above authors – Alice Munro, Amy Hempel, and Patricia Highsmith; will be of course great authors of the short story fiction.

Well Gentle Reader here is hoping that this blog experiment goes well. Here is hoping that all the stories are enjoyable. That the success of it, brings in more short story collections from authors from different time periods, different spectrums, different viewpoints, different status as authors, and brings them all together in their love for literature, and hopefully the mastery of the short form. But most importantly, the experience is most important for you Dear Gentle Reader. Hopefully you enjoy reading these reviews of the short stories that are reviewed. Maybe they will prompt you to buy them from your local book store, or down load them on to your kindle or e-reader or electronic book (thing). I personally am excited to see how this turns out. For tomorrow the first of the reviews begin!

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally Thievery and Wrong*

Thursday 21 April 2011

The Glass Cell

Hello Gentle Reader

Patricia Highsmith the granddame of the psychological thriller wrote the novel that I have just finished called “The Glass Cell.” Patricia Highsmith never gained any real recognition or real readership in her life time, in her homeland or native country of the Unite States of America. Partly because this author did not write thriller fiction, to show how justice prevails. In fact, Patricia Highsmith broke all the rules of the suspense fiction in genre of books. In fact here was an author who said:

“I find the public passion for justice quite boring and artificial.” – Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith did not look around the world, and see crime being done, then justice being served. Patricia Highsmith saw crime being committed, and a good portion of the criminals getting away with their slimy deeds. She even saw some of the people, committing the crimes where really those that were part of the supposed “justice,” system. The world was terribly flawed to Patricia Highsmith. A place of such flaws, and human indecencies that it was hard for anyone to live in the world without some form of mental damage to be have been done to anyone. Patricia Highsmith herself even lived with the ideal thought of murder. Her father abandoned her, and her mother before Patricia Highsmith was born. She utterly hated her stepfather Stanley, and she had a very (to put it lightly) relationship with her mother Mary Highsmith – a relationship that Patricia could never quite sever entirely and yet hated keeping.

Patricia Highsmith is a complicated psychological character, much like her characters in her stories and books – or that is what I presume. She was an entirely original writer in the twentieth century for her prose that scoffed at the idea of justice, and found the entire idea of being passionate about the justice system artificial and a complete bore. Her murderous anti-hero or criminal-hero Tom Ripley (“The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and the other books in the “Ripliad.”) got away with all his crimes, and showed just how much crime paid. For Patricia Highsmith the world really was built on the foundation of crime. So and so stole or legally swindled the land from the other so and so; John’s wife has been having an affair with Mr. Jones, and so on. All this was natural and quite normal to Patricia Highsmith.

Graham Greene (an author I don’t plan on reading for his over catholic zealotry quite boring and trite) had even described this underrated and horrifying author as a:

"Writer who has created a world of her own - a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger." – Graham Greene.

Mr. Greene was not far off either. The world was full of dangers. Children could murder their parents, by leaving a roller skate decisively hidden at the top of the stairs and the unknowing victim could fall down the stairs and break his or her neck. Husbands could discover that their wives are having an affair and one night in a fit of rage, just murderer the lover of the wife.

Patricia Highsmith though not as popular in her homeland of the United States o America, was immensely popular in her soon adopted homeland of Europe. The very place she died was also in Europe. To be exact Locarno Switzerland. Exact details are something that Patricia Highsmith’s novel “The Glass Cell,” can be riddled with at times, and at other times lacking.

“The Glass Cell,” is a character study of a man sent to prison. Presumably innocent. And for all we know Phillip Carter may be innocent. In fact for the purpose of this blog we’ll take the assumption that Phillip Carter is innocent – but incredibly naïve, which explains how he got into his present predicament of six years of prison. When we first meet Mr. Philip Carter, he is in prison. We are given a very faint backstory of how he got into his present predicament. Something to do with a fraud, which our main character Phillip Carter, is blamed for. The trail follows after the blame is pinned on him, and then Philip Carter is sent to jail.

Ms. Highsmith wastes no time in showing the very dark and disgusting nature of human beings, and their deficiencies and the abuse of power that people, often show when placed in a position of considerable power. Right away Philip Carter, is doing a simple task. His cell mate a man by the name of “Hanky,” who we know is on quite good terms with the prison guards. Philip Carter and Hanky do not have the best of relationships that one would have in prison. Philip Carter, at first we find out has great faith in the justice system. He expects that after a few days (if memory serves correct ninety days) that he will get his retrial, and soon be leaving the state penitentiary and the real convicts like “Hanky,” behind. If only Carter were to be so lucky.

Carter is denied retrial. His lawyer and friend David Sullivan and his wife Hazel have yet to give up hope however. Hazel hires another lawyer – a criminal lawyer; who I seem to have forgotten the name of (apparently he did not have much of a big part in this book – upon quick scanning of the book the lawyers name is M agran) and decides to help Carter help, him to ask the Supreme Court for help on his wrongly justified case.

But before even all that happens, Carter experiences, a painful lesson in Prison, in the first chapter. He is strung up in the prison in the “hole,” by his thumbs – for forty eight hours. Every time he comes close to passing out, the sadistic guards laugh and jeer at his pain, and throw cold water on him to keep him awake. This is just the first step into the metamorphosis that Carter will undergo. His thumbs are out of their joints, and are forever swollen and enlarge. There is nothing that the prison doctor – Doctor Cassini; can do expect administer morphine for the pain, for Carters thumbs. So begins another step in Carters metamorphosis and so degradation into becoming just like the other prisoners and convicts that he once thought he was not one of them.

The novel then continues. Things start to look up for Carter, now that he works in the medical wing of the state penitentiary. He has access to morphine now on a constant basis – it is not only hinted by quite openly stated that Doctor Cassini is also a morphine addict. Though Carter did try to get off the “dope,” once but failed. Carter starts to read more often, he also starts to take judo lessons from another inmate by the name of Alex, but his grossly large thumbs hinder him from doing a lot of throws and tosses and joint holds.

It should be stated that in all of Patricia Highsmith’s works there are homosexual undertones. Those undertones however did get to be openly stated in one of Patricia Highsmith’s other novels “The Price of Salt,” – which she wrote under the pseudonym of Claire Morgan. “The Price of Salt,” was once again (in Patricia Highsmith fashion) quite original and broke the rules of Lesbian fiction, for its happy ending. Patricia Highsmith herself was also a lesbian. However according to research Patricia Highsmith’s posthumous novel “Small g: a Summer Idyll,” also dealt directly with themes of homosexuality.

This can also plainly be seen in the novel “The Glass Cell,” Carter meets another inmate by the name of Max – Max Samson I think. He’s a man who speaks French, and this what first gets the two inmates together. Max and Carter both speak French, and for twenty-five minutes a day they meet, and speak to each other. Hazel Carter’s wife is ironically resentful of this new friend that Carter has. Carter is also quite suspicious of the relationship that David Sullivan and Hazel have.

When Carter is denied a second time for a request by the Supreme Court, he immediately tells his friend Max about this. Carter even openly shows his emotions about this and weeps in front of Max. Max does push his shoulder on Max’s bed, and tells him to lie down or get some rest. One of the two. This act of homosexual tension is what is known in Patricia Highsmith’s work, but other than the words exchanged, and the gesture exchanged, no feelings or actions were made upon the two.

The last part of Carter’s prison metamorphosis is when a prison riot happens, and for three days the prisoners, take hold of the state penitentiary for three days. Max is killed in this ensuring riot. Before that, Max and his cellmate a large “Negro,” as described, are given another cell mate by the name of “Squib,” or something like that (I do confess the names are so abnormal for the most part that I have a bit of trouble remembering the names.) who has made it clear that he dislikes Max and Carter. Carter suspects the new cell mate was the one that killed Max. Upon finding Max’s dead body, lifeless, and covered in blood, Carter loses control and kills another man while in prison. Eventually things fall into natural order for Carter once again. Max is gone – his salvation had easily come and had easily gone.

Weaning himself off of morphine, and soon released from prison Carter is now forced to come to terms with the concept that faces his life now: “what now?” – he goes home, his son is cold and distant to him – though that is to be suspected; finding a job becomes difficult though they are well off (Carter is an engineer); and the suspicions of David Sullivan and Hazel having an affair while Carter was in the “clink,” becomes ever present on the mind the new Carter. A man, who pops pills, craves morphine and lost weight and has a general cold demeanour to him.

Though Patricia Highsmith was a lesbian herself, she experienced emotions in a rather two spectrum of extremes. As much as she loved woman, she could only handle them for such periods of times; that were considerably short. It is no wonder that woman are often presented in vicious and not so positive and flattering light in her works of fiction.

We learn that Hazel has been having an affair with David Sullivan. At first she claims it was for three or four weeks. It becomes apparent that she lied. When David Sullivan is confronted he only gives the same speech that Hazel gave. Carter learns that Hazel and David Sullivan have been having an affair (possibly) before he was incarcerated, and definitely after his release, that continued on.

Carter is a man who has just got out of prison. The world is a bit strange and alien to him. His wife has been sleeping another man. He’s suffering from a morphine addiction – a disease that lurks around the edges of his psyche like a shark on the prowls by shallow water; his son is more fond of David Sullivan then he is of his own father (Carter); and to top it all off, when Hazel was confronted by the fact that Carter knew she was having an intimate affair with David Sullivan, and when asked if she was going to stop – all she could do is reply with a “I don’t know.”

Things really change for Carter however when the affair business gets to him after a while, and he commits his second act of murder on David Sullivan. David Sullivan however has helped Carter find a job, seems to have taken care of his household, and wife. Yet in some ways or another there is such bent up anger towards David Sullivan that Carter just cannot control himself and kills him. So begins the classic Highsmith game of cat and mouse, and the showing that not all criminals really do pay – and sometimes the innocent and naïve do pay, and become the criminals themselves.

There are a few things that I would change about this personally. I would make it longer. Part of me cannot help but wonder, what kind of book Patricia Highsmith could have created if she wrote a bit more on it. If she would have shown the reader the life of Philip Carter beforehand, then the jail then his release. It would have been a lot more interesting in my opinion, to see the complete change and control of the character, from naivety to incarceration, to his sudden and slow pit fall into the depths of depression, drug abuse, and murder.

The other thing that I find personally is that, some of the book just look like a bunch of coincidental events, all smashed and placed together in the chapters, and the paragraphs. It was hard to decipher personally what day it was (Sundays were the easiest because that is when Hazel would visit) what month, season, et cetera – this in my own personal opinion would help make the novel kind of come along, as the reader counts the days off, the holidays and the seasons along with Carter. Some slight deeper characterizations would not hurt either.

Patricia Highsmith wrote an interesting psychological thriller with “The Glass Cell.” Even though it was published back in ninety-sixty four, the concept and its plot, and the dark metamorphosis of an innocent man into a cold shell of someone else, is still something that people, I think are interested in to this day but also fear.

Michael Dirda a critic had observed that: Europeans honoured her as a psychological novelist, part of an existentialist tradition represented by her own favourite writers, in particular Dostoevsky, Conrad, Kafka, Gide, and Camus."

Which to me is true. Patricia Highsmith was a psychological novelist and thriller writer. She was more than interested in psychology, and enjoyed filling her stories with murder and death. She probed the dark abscess of the world around us. She went deep into the minds of her characters, no matter how dark. Wherever she went she saw murder, and murderous events just waiting around the corner – from preschools to suburbia to the city; murder was lurking in the corners of everyone’s mind. Her novel “The Glass Cell,” is an expert example of her psychological study skills rather than her thriller skills really. She trains her microscope to watch the slow unfolding of the metamorphosis of a very dark and mutated moth.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Reader
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and wrong.*

M. Mary

Friday 15 April 2011

April is The Cruelst Month and Gates of Hell

Hello Gentle Reader

My apologies for not blogging yesterday. I had nothing really to blog about, so I had decided not to blog at all. When there is nothing to write then there is no need to make something up. Who really would want to hear the very mundane, the very uninteresting, the very personal, and pathetic details of a mundane nobodies life? Personally I would not. I mean what is one such as myself supposed to say, like a day like yesterday. Am I supposed to report, how many items of food I had consumed? How many times I had to use the lavatory? My observations on the weather? My study on my animals behaviours? Tell quirky stories of no real literary merit? Talk about my people watching and the thoughts that I had about other people? – Quite frankly I find all that to be quite a bore really, and would rather not talk about any of those things, because well I either did not do one of those things, or do not record them. However, I do have something to write about in the early hours of Friday morning. Why am I up so late? Who can say, all I know is I will most likely be up early the next day regardless of if I want to be or not. That’s a fact of life – or at least a fact of my life.

I watched an interesting program on the television. Believe it or not; as much as I spew hatred and nasty comments at the junk that people watch on television these days, I do still watch some television, though I much prefer to read or watch a movie, or better yet sleep (that’s right I don’t live much of a life!). Nonetheless tonight on the history channel, there was a documentary program about hell. The program was called “Gates of Hell,” fitting I know. It’s more or less about six locations on earth that are believed and rumoured to be portals or gates into the very vast, dismal, abyss like space or void, where torment, torture, suffering, and the most grisly kind of pain is experienced. I decided that I would write a blog about what I thought not about the program, but rather what I thought about the entire concept of “hell,” or “hades,” or “the underworld,” or “the afterlife,” and so and so forth. I have decided to turn my cynical eye and vicious tongue to this paranormal phenomenon and cultural icon, and to give my own opinion on it.

First and foremost, seeing as every culture, every religion, every civilization had a different name or title for the (parallel) world called “Hell,” you’ll noticed that their maybe a single letter in italics in brackets such as (G) Underworld – that means Greek Underworld – as in the Greek’s view of the world of the underworld; or (E) Afterlife – this means Egyptian Afterlife. This will help differentiate the different views and different interpretations and perceptions of the idea and the supposed existing “world,” of hell.

Even in today’s modern world – a world of technological advances, medical development, scientific progressions, general life upgrading; anyone would be surprised to learn that in today’s day and age, that mythology and faith are still quite evident in daily life; that is with some people. There has always been a need or desire for human beings – who are sentient beings; to have a reason to life or to have something to look forward to after life is over and death begins; that is to say if death begins at all. The idea that the suffering of life and the desire to do good deeds has always prompted people to make sure that there is something to look forward to after life itself. There must be a reason that good people suffer alongside the wicked and the evil. There must be a reason, why the terrible tyrants, the infidelity of heretics, the diabolical dictators, the crooked bankers, the slithery snakes of thieves (!) why is it they all get away with their crimes. So it is the human need and the human desire that there must be some form of retribution for the injustice of the world. If not what is the point of believing in doing the good and doing justice, and living a righteous and courteous way of living? If crime is what really is going to make life’s most material needs be met, then wouldn’t everyone be committing some act of crime? Would the streets not be running red with the foul smell of murder lingering in the air over past transgressions? Would the houses not be filled with people hoarding and greedily holding on to their treasures from others, and the people they once considered “friends,” – even family? Would there no longer be food for all to eat, only those with the money – or the very strong willed form of persuasion that just happens to involve violence? My thoughts of this matter would be yes.

Yet people need the idea – even if it is utopian and so overly rose coloured with optimism; that the wicked people of the world will pay for their transgressions. The good will repent, they will be given rewards (72 virgins being one of the perks as someone happened to state), they will live in an eternity of happiness, peace and good fortune. While the real people who lived impure and infidel lives, will suffer and they will burn in the eternities of hell and will forever pay for their sins, and all that they have to answer for.

This idea is not new by any means. In ancient times, a civilization really cannot thrive without law. Law is necessary. Law is what keeps everyone and everything intact. The law is what makes sure that everyone is doing their part at making life an respectable place. However what point is it in having a law if there is no real punishments for the crimes done. But the earthly crime’s and punishment’s is just one thing is it not? Why not scare people (and children) into the absolute good behaviour (and if they mess up then they can repent and confess). This way they will forever fear of doing something really bad, for the sake of their eternal souls and the damnation it could bring.

In (G) Underworld for instance, there were many forms of how one would live the rest of their eternal life. In the pit of Tartarus – which originally housed or better put was the prison of the Titans (the Greek gods before the Olympian Gods); is now a place where the damned souls of the evil souls are damned. Erebus or the land of the dead is where everyday people (or neutral souls) are sent – there they are ruled over by Hades (the Olympian God of the Underworld). The Elysium Islands/Fields is where the truly heroic and vitreous people go. Reading this, there is a pretty easy set of a way to place it. In Greek mythology there are three levels (depending on which source, or website or book or what historians, classical literature and mythologists say) where the three (general) levels of human nature are split up: The virtuous/.heroic, the natural or common man, and the evil and dastardly people.

The (E) Afterlife is much the same way. The Ancient Egyptians had elaborate and complex views and beliefs in death – I have yet (personally) to hear a culture that does not have that same trait. Mummification, a term that is known quiet well. The pulp years come to my mind when I think of world mummification and Egypt. The idea of curses, searing hot sands brutal and barbaric sun, and a landscape so desolate and pointless, only fools would bother living there. Well not to mention cures of mummies, ancient tombs of booby traps, riches beyond one’s wildest dreams, and well preserved people that resemble beef jerky – or rather jerky in general.

(E) Afterlife originally thought of two life forces: the Ka and the Ba were part of every human being. Well the later (Ba) was actually thought to be only to belong to the pharaoh. However over time everyone learned that they had these two spiritual and religious soul(s) that would allow them to travel into the lush (E) Afterlife. Before that however (I mean before the aspect that everyone had the two requirements to enter that lush paradise and pastors of the land of the dead) people (the commoners) died they went into a bleak non-existent state – basically their life was meaningless, and their death was meaningless, and they were made simply to serve the pharaoh, until it was agreed upon that they all had the necessary souls to move into the (E) Afterlife. However in order for a common person to make it into the lush pastoral fields of the (E) Afterlife, they needed to pass a few tests. The famous test, as everyone knows it to be is, the test of the heart of the person being weighted to that of a feather of Ma’at (an Egyptian goddess of justice, order, law, morality/ethics et cetera) if the person’s heart was heavier than the feather, the demon/deity Ammit consumes the heart and the persons soul becomes restless forever.

What do these two ancient cultures and their beliefs in death, the soul, and heaven and hell have to do with modern times? Simple they are the general view that all cultures and religions, ancient and modern, all have views on death and the eternal salvation and damnation of the souls. Part of it is the human desire and expectation to have justice served on those that deserve to rot in hell, and others deserve the eternal paradise that is promised to all. This however, is more or less uninteresting to me. People’s desire for justice I find personally is artificial and boring. Something of a complete bore, and a waste of my time. For I think personally, the desire for justice for many is a desire for legal vengeance, and retribution.

However the world even today is riddled with aspects of hell. In the book or poem or whatever it is Dantes: “Inferno,” or rather “The Divine Comedy,” is the depiction of hell. Dante Alighieri split hell up into nine circles or spheres. Those circles or spheres each corresponded to some form of sin or transgression. Circle one: Limbo (more or less a very soft place. Unbaptized and virtuous pagans. Basically these people didn’t accept god or Jesus Christ in their lives. God hates them, but instead of burning them and ripping them apart because they lived good lives, and pulling their intestines out of their anus’s God makes them stay in a world between heaven and hell.) The next circle is the second circle corresponding to: Lust (this place is where all the bad bitches and whores and concubines who are blown about to and fro in a violent storm). The Third Circle is: Gluttony (this is where the gluttonous pigs will forever be drenched in rain, stuck in mud and filth. A life consumed by sustenance and a need for it, and refusal to share with all Gods people pissed God off, so he decided to throw them into the third circle of hell.) The Fourth Circle’s sin is: Greed (These are the people that desired to achieve more out of life and enjoy that to themselves. These people are punished for wanting more or only the best out of life. They are bound face down. Apparently God does not appreciate ambition). The fifth circle; can you believe there are nine of these (?) is: Anger (here those that experience the natural feeling of anger, are condemned in the river of Styx – which should be noted is a river in the (G) Underworld – which is a boiling river of blood.) The sixth circle is for: Heretics (People who speak their minds are not welcome in heaven or paradise. They are destroyed encased in tombs of flames!)

The seventh ring (along with the following ones) is an interesting circle of hell from the looks of it. According to Dante the seventh circle is the circle of violence. However this circle of violence is split up into three rings. The first ring is for the circle of the violent against others and property. The second ring is the ring against those who have committed suicide (violent against themselves) – poor bastards are turned into thorny bushes and trees and are fed on by the Harpies (another bit of Greek mythology in their). The last ring is the ring against God or nature which for the purpose of this we shall say sodomy! Basically you have sex with the same sex, or oral sex, or sex with an animal, you are impure and boy oh boy is God really pissed off at you! The land is a scolding and sweltering desert, where one is forced to wander, sit, and roam – for eternity!
The eight circle is another interesting circle. Much like the seventh circle of violence the eighth circle of fraud is split into ten different rings. Instead of going into details will make a quick list.

The First Ring: pimps and seducers – these poor damned souls, are marched in two lines and whipped by demons.

The Second Ring: Flatters – These poor damned souls, are placed in human feces – Dante has resorted to toilet humour and he did so well!

The Third Ring: Simony – for those who do not know what simony is (I confess I didn’t) it is paying for a clerical or church position. These naughty people, are placed in holes in the ground and have flames placed on their soles of their feat.

The Fourth Ring: Deals with false prophets – these people have their heads twisted around, because they can’t look forwards towards God.

The Fifth Ring: This is a place for corrupt politicians – these deserving bastards, are placed in a pit of pitch or tar or something that is sticky and dark like their deals.

The Sixth Ring: Hypocrites – these people are the people who are forced in lead cloaks. Personally God should be amongst these people.
The Seventh Ring: Thieves – These criminals are chased and bitten by snakes and lizards.

The Eighth Ring: Is for those that give false advice or false counsellors. Not sure what this punishment is here. Obviously Dante is getting tired of writing this poem.

The Ninth Ring: Is for those that create discord – basically they are all chopped up and regenerate before being chopped up again.

The Tenth Ring: For the false people as in impersonators counterfeiters – these people are given every disease imaginable.

Finally once and for all we meet the final circle of hell. What could be so bad, that one would end up here? Apparently treachery. Personally myself I thought violence was a good one – at least in the murder sense; but God disagrees – or rather Dante does. It appears that in this circle of hell which is split up into four more rings which are split into: treachery of kindred; traits of political reasons; traitors to their guests; and traitors to their lords. It is here that all the traitors are locked in ice not fire, but ice – but that is according to Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” Which I don’t find Divine or really all that funny – but ironic that a loving god would create evil, and a free will, and throw people he created into the dark world below.

My opinion on the abstract belief in hell is quite simple. Hell has been around for years, as long as people have been around, the desire and need to have something to believe in after we die, to reward us for our righteous and often painful lives, is what we hope for. While we also hope for those that live unrighteous lives, will be punished. That is all that hell is. It is the artificial need and desire for people, to have justice both in life and in death. As I had stated personally I find this desire for justice quite boring and utopian and wishful thinking. But some people really need it to pacify them, and to make their lives have some form of meaning, rather than accepting the inevitable fact that there is no meaning to life – well at least no divine one. However people can always create some form of meaning to their lives. But others choose to have some other meaning to life. A sense that it cannot be happening that death truly is the period to the run on sentence to life or the last chapter the novel of a life. How cliché of me to say. Seeing a this blog was all about civilizations (or mankind’s civilizations) obsession with death, justice, hell, morality, and all that fun stuff, I thought the following quote from the poem “The Wasteland,” by T.S. Elliot was fitting for not only this Blog but this month:

“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”

T. S. Elliot Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature 1948, poem “The Wasteland,”

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Reader
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and wrong.*

M. Mary

Monday 4 April 2011

Mondays With Mr. K (No. IV)

Hello Gentle Reader

Time for another "Mondays With Mr. K," as it appears. I decided to do one early this April, because well I haven't finished reading a novel yet. I haven't finished reading "Palace of Desire," by Naguib Mahfouz, and I am slowly and surely getting my way through "The Talented Miss Highsmith," a biography about Patricia Highsmith. So I decided to give you another "Mondays With Mr. K," in order to make up for my lack of reading of late. However I have been able to jot down aproximetly one Short Short Story, a night/day. Which is a nice acopmplishment. Maybe some time I'll post some on here. But not today. Please Enjoy this week's "Monday With Mr. K," and have yourselfa lovely week, and a great weekend ahead of you.


Mr. K was a person who loved quotes. When having tea, he would often tell stories of his times, through out his life. Sometimes they could be the simple story of him on a fishing trip, or another time, it could be him telling a person about a hike he took in the woods, or a day he bought a paticullarly odd item. However most of these tales came from a Mr. K making a mistake. Which he would say: "And this why I always say 'Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.'" One day however a rather well read and clever child heard, Mr. K say that when his parents were having tea with Mr. K, and happilly responded to Mr. K: "But Mr. K, I'm sure Oscar Wilde said that." The child's parents were quickly alarmed at what their boy had said, and quickly chided him and apologized on his behalf to Mr. K. Mr. K however smiled to the boy and responded: "You are a clever child. And you are right, Oscar Wilde did say that at one point. But now I say it."