The Birdcage Archives

Wednesday 29 June 2011

The Short Story Review No. III

The Secret Sin of Septimus Brope,” by Saki – From “The Complete Saki,” by Saki – Section: “The Chronicles of Clovis.”

I do think Gentle Reader that I’ll never get sick of Saki my Dear Gentle Reader. There is something in his wit, something in his use of words, something about him, that just makes his stories work. I was watching an interesting interview last night, with a English Modern Renaissance man – and by that I mean he’s quite the Renaissance man indeed and not just because he is European (though I am sure that his nationality being included in the entire continent Europe with its rich history helps with the title) but because he is an actor, a memoirist, novelist, comedian, performer, journalist, film director, radio persona and so on and so forth. Watching the interview I could not help but think of a bit of Saki (H.H. Munro) while watching it. There is something about his outlook on life, and outlook and positive tone that he speaks of even at his darkest moments that just makes him such a humane character. Now of course I am one of those people who is not noted for a supreme sense of humour or not even noted for having a sense of humour. Even when Stephen Fry spoke of his suicide attempt to the interviewer George Stroumboulopoulos (try saying that name at least once without being stumped) he remarked on the pills that he had overdosed on, and how he was saved by his brother who was awaken by his projectile vomiting even though he was unconscious. The way he dealt with these moments of his life, with a sense of dry humour make him an interesting person. This is the kind of way Saki deals with his stories. He deals with these high snobbish people of the Edwardian Era, and how they take themselves far too seriously.

In this story for example, Saki turns his eyes into the hostess world of a woman by the name of Mrs. Riversedge, who makes everyone else’s business her own business. Especially when hosting a party or something of that matter. She in facts states first thing in the story about the subject of this story of Septimus Brope. Saki makes it noted that as an old fashioned hostess should know something about her guests – even if they are to the bare minimal; that what is known of the guests should also be noted for their strengths or more or less interesting aspect of them. Thinking about that, it is a way of thinking that it is the best way to note that the person (host or hostess) knows something about each guest – even if it is incredibly trite and superficial. However this was a very polite day and age and everyone would act impressed by the host or hostess; however Saki looks at this terrible superficiality and champagne martini sipping people with such a macabre satirical outlook that he just sends their manners down the toilet and scoffs at them. Such is the premise for the story of “The Secret Sin of Septimus Brope.”

Mrs. Riversedge makes the life of Septimus Brope her business. On the surface Septimus Brope is the most banal, mundane, dull people, but not quite common place (well my parents should have just called me Septimus). Septimus Brope writes for a magazine or rather is an editor of a magazine titled Cathedral Monthly. This would be a very peculiar magazine. Obviously secular – much like this blog. Septimus Brope makes two hundred dollars yearly but is noted suspiciously for hosting some interesting (that is my favourite word) and elaborate luncheons. He dresses nicely. All of this raises some suspicions of how he is able to do these fashionable aspects of Edwardian life with only two hundred dollars as his yearly income. Suspicious are then once again escalated when the subject of the aunt of Clovis mentions that she could overlook all the dullness, mundane, banal, and boring aspects of Septimus Brope but she cannot overlook the fact that he has an interesting relationship with her maid – who has the most peculiar of names: Florinda. So begins a long discussion and speculation that the dull, archaic, dreary, prosaic, vapid, and unimaginative Septimus Brope and his supposed love affair with the maid who has a peculiar, exotic, eccentric, and not quite plain name who goes by the name of Florinda (every time I do one of those long lists of adjectives describing someone, I feel like a little kid who just discovered the coma, and how to use it properly.) Later on Clovis discovers the real person who goes by the name “Florrie,” is far worse for then Mister Septimus Broph would dare admit – though he does. It turns out that Clovis aunt was wrong in the entire matter of Septimus Broph sleeping with the maid with the peculiar name. In fact it turns out that it is far worse for Septimus Broph. A man whose entire life and literary career, is devoted to cathedrals and Byzantine architecture, and all that stuffy old stuff, that would only interest a very secular and very devoted reader to the architecture of cathedrals. But the scandal of learning that the editor of Cathedral Monthly is doing something far more worst then having a romantic relationship with a maid with the most unconventional name. To really best describe this scandalous activity, would best be described as an author of literary fiction like Orhan Pamuk, Don Delillo, Herta Muller, Yasunari Kawabata, Naguib Mahfouz, Mario Vargas Llosa, Claude Simon, Ko Un, David Mitchell, and so on writing a penny dreadful novel of romance, the kind of mass market paperback bull shit that passes for “entertainment,” – as mindless as it is; which is used by the likes of Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts, Nicolas Sparks, Stephanie Meyer, and all those other novelists who could write something of literary merit if they tried. But are paid for their crappy books because the reading public demands more. Putting that in consideration one now can think of what Septimus Brope would do that is so out of character and would be scandalous to his reputation as an editor of a magazine devoted entirely to the architecture and presumably histories of cathedrals.

Here’s a hint from the book:

‘“How you bore, Florrie,
With those eyes of vacant blue,
You’ll be very sorry, Florrie,
If I marry you.
Though I’m easy-goin’, Florrie,
This I swear is true,
I’ll throw you down a quarry, Florrie,
If I marry you.”’


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

I certainly do not make it unknown that I quite enjoy Yasunari Kawabata (Nobel Laureate in Literature of ninety-sixty eight and the first Japanese author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature). Personally Yasunari Kawabata with his delicate prose, ability to work understatements, minimalist and poetic prose; but one of my favourite parts of Yasunari Kawabata’s prose, is his psychological depth that his characters are given. Something that is done effortlessly in Yasunari Kawabata’s fiction. I have read many of the ninety sixty-eight Nobel Laureate’s “Palm-Of-The-Hand Stories,” and his short novel “Snow Country,” and can say that the minimalist prose, but also the in depth psychological probing is one of the most wonderful pieces of work I have read. I never grow tired of how Yasunari Kawabata writes about the society of Japan and its traditions facing modernization and reforms, and cultural identity in a forever changing landscape of the modern world is something that some would feel has been over done for many years in Japanese literature, but in my opinion, I think in the rise of Japanese literature, contemporary authors are turning away from the modernist writes and their melancholy and despair of the Japanese society, opening up to the modification and reforms that the West had pressured on them. These authors: Yasunari Kawabata (Nobel Laureate of Literature in ninety-sixty eight), Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Yukio Mishima; mourn the loss of Japan as it was. The Japanese literature of today; Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto deal with Japan after the change and reforms that the modernist Japanese authors watched with such sadness in their eyes. Both of these popular Japanese novelists deal with the career mind driven Japan of today. They deal with the alienation and loneliness that can be felt in the contemporary Japanese person, in today postmodern world. Kenzaburō Ōe the second Japanese writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in ninety-ninety four, is also a contemporary author, but is different from both Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto, in his dealings are both slightly different from both of the two other novelists. Kenzaburō Ōe maintains a sense of western influence of his work, but at the same time, it truly is a certain sense of Japan and Japanese culture in his work. I have not read any work by Banana Yoshimoto, but I did read “Kafka on the Shore,” by Haruki Murakami and the one thing that differentiates both Ōe and Murakami, is that Haruki Murakami uses popular culture references in his work. For example in “Kafka on the Shore,” Colonel Sanders appears among other surreal events, and the discussion of music is also always discussed in his work. Kenzaburō Ōe though influenced by French literature (Jean-Paul Sartre) and American Literature (Mark Twain) maintains a strict identity in Japan and Japanese culture, much Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima, and Jun'ichirō Tanizaki.

This review however is not about the ever changing landscape of Japanese Literature from Yasunari Kawabata to Kenzaburō Ōe to now Haruki Murakami, and the other popular culture novels of Japan (cell phone novels). No this review is about the story “Tabi,” by the Nobel Laureate in Literature.

It is an interesting story on its childlike innocence discussion of death, sickness, and dying. The reason why I enjoy this story though was a certain passage (which will be quote in due time) that compared a sock to a worm, and the socks that are placed in the casket of the narrators sister. It’s an incredibly touching story, in its effect of how it is written. Yasunari Kawabata does not reveal too much in this story. Most to all the stories of “Palm-Of-The-Hand Stories,” are written in the same way. The way that it is written as if someone is looking into a room only partly lit and all the details are hidden in the murky depths of the shadows. All the prose have a certain ambiguity to them, and certainly only a very dim light is placed in the center of the room. The rest of the work is written in the same way with slight variations to every store. As the reader, after reading one of these stories one is left certainly left pondering over the details of the stories. This provided with his understating minimalist prose, allows Yasunari Kawabata to work these very short stories in great fashion, and certainly show he is the master of his form of writing.

“Turning delirious in the evening, my sister arched her body back. Her braced, straining hands trembled violently. Even when that stopped, her head seemed about to drop off the pillow to the left. And then, from her half-opened mouth, a white intestinal roundworm slowly crawled out.

“”Since then, I’ve often recalled vividly the peculiar whiteness of that worm. And, at such times, I make it a point to think of the white socks caked tabi.”

True my dear Gentle Reader, it is a bit grotesque, thinking of a parasitic worm exiting a dead person’s body and then comparing it to a pair of socks is a bit grotesque yes. But the way that Yasunari Kawabata wrote the entire story there was a real sense of innocence of the work. The narrator speaking of how his/her sister gave him/her money to go the theatre at one point in time, and the sister taking the narrators present for his/her teacher, to his funeral and placing the get well present in his casket, for the narrator. All of these aspects of the story create for an interesting story – though slightly grotesque, there is certain a sense of childhood innocence in the way that the subject matter is dealt with.


“Wenlock Edge,” by Alice Munro – From “Too Much Happiness,” by Alice Munro

In Alice Munro’s short stories from her collection of “Too Much Happiness,” Alice Munro’s characters at first appearance, live very normal and ordinary lives. There is no real sense of adventure at first glance in their lives. Though in the previous short story “Fiction,” the characters of Joyce and John had a very interesting relationship at first glance. The two of them were drifters for a while. Their parents called them hippies, though they were not, and both of them were probably the farthest people from the definition of hippies. “Dimensions,” also has the first impression of very complacent yet slightly menacing feeling underneath the surface. Especially when the main character is seeing a therapist, and there are deeper and darker subjects are being discussed, and within in time, we learn of the cause of the menacing and out of place feeling of these stories. It’s like a person whose house is all neat and tidy. Everything has their undisputed place; nothing is ever moved out of its place and then left out of place. Everything is cleaned to perfection. Everything is immaculate in appearance. Every detail is measured. This is how everything is on the surface, of one of Alice Munro’s stories from “Too Much Happiness,” works. Everything at first glance is in place. Every piece of china is in their correct order. The china cup handles are all pointing towards the right. Every cat ornament plate sits on their display shelves. Each one of them sitting up straight. Not a chip on them. The counter is as clean and spotless and uncluttered as it always has been. The table also sits the way it always has sat before. The table cloth is unstained, and perfect in its delicate lace, reminiscence of the Victorian Era. But then as if without warning, something unsettling can be seen, in the workings of the kitchen table. The table cloth is of center. Then soon other small details can be seen. One china cup is chipped. The back door is unlocked. The cat is missing. This how Alice Munro’s stories in “Too Much Happiness,” have worked so far. They show the normal surroundings slowly being usurped into something out of the ordinary.

The main character of the story is a simple girl. She comes from a small country background. She moves to London, Ontario to start doing university. She is studying English and Philosophy. Her life is rather simple. Every Sunday night, her mother’s cousin Ernie takes her out for dinner, at a restaurant called the “Old Chelsea.” There her mother’s cousin Ernie indulges himself in roast beef. While the main character, indulges herself into those romantic dreams and ideas of what city people eat. Like vol au vent or duck or whatever else she dreams that city people eat, that is fancy – kind of like a person from North America who dreams of someday eating French fine cuisine, and tries frog legs, snails, lobster and other fine delicacies.

Life changes for the main character however when a new girl by the name of Nina comes into the mix. She may try to pass herself off as a regular college student but she is by far not. She has a camel skinned jacket, a kimono, and other expensive pieces of clothing, that are out of a regular college student. There also comes to learn that there are some other strange occurrences of Nina’s life that come to be noticed in time. There is the black car that parks across the street a few doors down. Pretty soon becomes noted that Nina doesn’t know where Europe is, has no idea who the Romantic poets are, among other common knowledge that a common college student would know to have. Things are not right in Nina’s world. She is followed by the black car who as the reader learns is driven by a woman by the name of Mrs. Winner. She sees a man by the name of Mr. Purvis, and has travelled all over the world – and she’s only twenty two. These are “good,” qualities of Nina’s life. She has a child by the name of Gemma (though it becomes clear that it is uncertain where that child is now that I think of it) from an early incident. She had been married once before, and then left him, and had a rough start to a complicated life, that she could not understand and yet choose. The main character however ends up getting involved in Nina’s life slowly and surely. It is an experience she does not want or even understands after a while. The interesting and odd escapade she has when she has dinner with Mr. Purvis, and then returns home only to find Nina missing once again.

It’s hard to say where I stand on this story. The tightly written prose, are good, the superficiality of the normal day to day life of the Sunday ritual going out with the bachelor cousin of her mother Ernie who takes her to the restaurant called the “Old Chelsea,” and how she decides to live like city people do in eating their kinds of food that she had always dream of eating. But the entire situation, and gaps of the nature of Mr. Purvis and Nina, is not entirely discussed, and these are some certain down falls of this short story. One of the greatest positives of Alice Munro’s style though is, the “texturelessness,” (as one reviewer called it) of her work. Her work does not focus on one particular moment, but the almost undeveloped and casual way of life does its course. Perhaps this is why Alice Munro’s stories feel like little condensed novels, rather than a traditional short story focusing on one subject, or one emotion or one feeling that would common in the short story format.

The one thing about a short story collection though, is that every short story on some level or another is a hit and miss. Some hit home, and others do not. But that is a short story collection for you. It does not matter either way. The one you read failed to tickle the fancy, then maybe the next one will. That is how I look at the short story collections. I look forward to another one that does end up tickling my fancy also. That is also the reason why I love short stories at times also. They pertain to the individuals taste.


“Pool Night,” by Amy Hempel – From “The Collected Stories,” by Amy Hempel – Section: “Reasons to Live.”

In my edition of “The Collected Stories [of Amy Hempel],” by Amy Hempel, there are a few review quotes by other publications – The New York Review of Books, Baltimore Sun, O, the Oprah magazine, San Francisco Chronicle and other places of journalism and reviews of books and so on. I usually do not read these. In fact it is purely by coincidence or chance that I read some of these evening while looking for a short story to read and then review. One of these review blurbs or praise pieces was by The Atlantic Monthly which praised Amy Hempel’s work with the following quote:

“Few fiction writers are as intensely admired by their peers as is Amy Hempel. . . . Hempel’s is a hard-boiled sensibility, and each of her stories will leave the reader shaken.”

This review; this praise – it rings true when I had finished the short story “Pool Night.” One of the greatest pleasures of reading (for me) is coming across a line, or something that strikes a chord somewhere. Some of those lines are famous. From Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit,”

“Hell is other people.”

Or what about the most common quote people see with an actor holding a skull, from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,”:

“To be, or not to be,--that is the question:--whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?”

Or what about the quote from John Milton in his poem “Paradise Lost,”:

“Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heaven.”

These are all famous lines and quotes. But there are less known quotes, which have not been able to take on a status as some attempt at “pop culture,” but can be found in any book that one chooses to read. They have that feel and certain sense of philosophy to them. While others tug at the emotions of the reader. Usually – or so far to be more honest and exact; I have found Amy Hempel’s perfectly penned sentences somewhat cold in their writing. Though perfectly wrote, and grammatically correct, and perfectly done in a somewhat journalistic way of using sentences and words. However when reading the last bit of the entire story, the very last line is just what hit home perfectly.

“I know that homes burn and that you should think what to save before they start to. Not because, in the heat of it, everything looks as valuable as everything else. But because nothing looks worth the bother, not even your life.”

This is what had struck me. The entire story though is not about the fire of the house, or the flood that had happened years earlier. In fact in some way or another it is difficult to say what this story is about at all. Amy Hempel’s stories are written in the same way that Alice Munro has written the stories for “Too Much Happiness.” The difference though between Alice Munro and Amy Hempel, is that Amy Hempel is not writing in the regionalist way that Alice Munro does in her take of her own stories where she usually writes about the farms and semi-rural towns of south western Ontario. Amy Hempel’s stories differentiate in the way that they are written. A place maybe given, though in this particular story there is no place given. What does keep Amy Hempel and Alice Munro together though is that they both write about these “texturelessness,” lives. There is certainly nothing special about Amy Hempel’s characters. They are normal for the most part. Though Grey is somewhat of an extraordinary character when one, reviews his incredible diving talents. But also the fact that Amy Hempel’s main character in the story “Pool Night,” points out he’s quite the incredible person in the lives of others:

“Grey was a junior lifeguard at the pool. He tanned to the colour of the flakes he ate each morning, and i knew girls who saved his chewing gum.”

But this story is not about Grey or his talent in diving, and aqua-acrobatics. It is not even a story of the flood that had devastated a town. It is not a story about the lost photographs that Bunny or Dr. Winton had lost. I think in some way or another it is a story about remembering, and accepting that fact, that you won’t always be around to remember. Maybe this is why through the story one has a bit of sympathy for Dr. Winton as he sits in his house drinking his liquor cabinet until there is nothing left, and is hauled out by the Red Cross.

“The effect was of him saying after the flood: What I lose will always be lost.”

I think personally myself that the entire story is about living life as it is. Just as the main character and unnamed narrator states, that she much prefers the present, because in the future you die, and much prefers the present where you live. It is a short story about the past, the present, and the future in some way or another. I think as people get older they start to remember how things were. How things should still be. Maybe in some way or another Dr. Winton is right about what he stated when he said what he will lose will always be lost. Because once he is lost, everything remains lost, he remains lost, and so it ends. And yet the last few lines of the story continue to pull at the heart, and I still quite enjoy rereading it in my head and listening to it rebound in my ears.

Such stories that are like Amy Hempel’s and Alice Munro’s are a bit difficult to review at times. I could of course be wrong. I choose to sympathize and grow attached to Dr. Winton then I did with the narrator or Grey or anyone else. But that is just me. I am not going to say that I “Comprehended,” the story correctly, but I read it my way, and have reviewed it my way. Which is all done – quite frankly; my way.


“A Short History of the English Novel,” by Will Self – From “Grey Area,” by Will Self

I certainly must be in a quoting mood of late; because once again a journalistic publication has caught my attention with an accurate description of this particular author. The New York Times Book Review stated the following about Will Self, and actually describes the authors writing style in an absolute flawless way.

“[An] incomparable talent . . . he is a supreme recreator of the particular sensual detail of things, objects and surfaces. In Will Self’s fictional universe, all reality is virtual reality, imagined into existence by individuals seeking a distraction from the meaningless internal roiling of themselves. This may not add up to much in terms of a philosophy—but in terms of a fictional experience, Mr. Self is creating some of the most unusual and challenging landscapes around.”

Accurate would be the word to describe the above passage from The New York Times Book Review, in describing the writing of Will Self. Will Self is one of those writers who knows he is incredibly clever, and has no problem flaunting that fact. Deemed a satirist by critics and journalists, it is hard for me to wonder where I sit on the entire discussion of Will Self. He does not posse the humour of Saki (H.H. Munro) – however does Saki posse the humour he has now because of how old his stories are? In a few years say thirty or forty years, will the stories of Mr. Self have the same charm that Saki’s stories have on me? I certainly shall not rule out that possibility for sure. In fact they very might as well be seen as some of the classical humour of the early twenty first century.

“A Short History of the English Novel,” strikes a chord with me, the character Gerard is quite a philistine character in his take on the contemporary English novel – in fact it could be said he has a very pessimistic, cynical despondent view of literature of the contemporary age period; I make it no secret that I am philistine and barbaric towards the current state of literature and the pulp fiction mass market paperback world that many think is literature (which it is not). I make it no disguise in my loutish insults against the “dumb,” world view of the current age of affairs of what is deemed readable. But I make no apologies for my unrefined remarks of my disgust with it either. Neither does Gerard who views the current state of affairs of the English novel, as nothing more than fragmentary genres. As Gerard explains you have no real English novel anymore (the novels reminiscing of Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, the Brontë sisters, George Elliot – towards the modernist novelists: Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, E.M. Foster) but rather fragmentary specialized fiction for minority groups of readers. As Gerard points out to his friend Geraldine, there are now only novels labelled by their intended audience: woman novels, gay novels, black novels, sensation novels, cell phone novels, young adult novels, man novels – and so on and so forth. As Gerard points out to his friend Geraldine there no longer is a “English Novel,” just simply specialized novels, who have found a nice comfortable niche and work that niche to their advantage. However it soon becomes clear after these two characters do a nice romp around London after their lunch and decided to go for coffee, and then after some interesting episodes a drink, that the reader begins to see that Gerard has a very negative view of any form of contemporary works of creative writing. As he meets waiters and waitresses who are aspiring writers or authors, Gerard begins to show that no matter how good these prospective novels are, they are not good enough for him. He remarks on one novelist who has written an allegory of a novel set in the future (which Geraldine had miscalls in calling a satire which upsets the author), this idealistic kind of author however, is no match to escape the very jaded eyes of Gerard. He simply remarks that her work is too “precious,” and then remarks that it is two words “precious,” and “pretentious.”

Seeing and reading such things about Gerard and pinpointing and relating back to one’s self is a bit of a frightening experience. I wonder now (and I admit I can be a bit like Gerard but have come out of my very narrow view of literature) that critics feel that only good literature is the literature of the deceased or of times gone by. I as a reader used to think that. I loved to read Charles Dickens, I remember reading “Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Brontë, and “Crime and Punishment,” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and I felt smart. I felt the only good literature was the literature of the past. The literature that had meaning. Besides as far as I was concerned, every contemporary novel was trying to mimic and imitate the Victorian Era novel. Which is true, a lot of the books today is written in the purple prose of the romantic language and very tasteless tacky picturesque prose that is try to reminisce of the novels of the nineteenth century (you know the kind of novels that Saul Bellow Nobel Prize Laureate of Literature in ninety-seventy six, was criticized as writing.) However there are a lot of books today written by great novelist also. The kind of novelists you have to go searching for. Research for; and hopefully you find. I no longer have the stuck up view (well not entirely about ninety-five percent of my view on books is still quite stuck up) that Gerard has, but at the same time, Gerard and I differentiate on certain aspects of the discussion of literature. Though we both would agree on the Oscar Wilde quote:

“In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.”

That much I am sure the two of us will agree on.


“A Curious Suicide,” by Patricia Highsmith – From “The Selected Stories: of Patricia Highsmith,” by Patricia Highsmith – Section “Slowly, Slowly in the Wind.”

The last story I read by Patricia Highsmith “Broken Glass,” was an amazing story. At least I thought it was an amazing story. Some will of course disagree. There is just something about that story that just worked. Patricia Highsmith during her life time was seen as a Dime novel Dostoevsky; nothing more and nothing less. In today’s world, Patricia Highsmith is seen as one of the United States of America’s greatest hidden and unappreciated treasures. Seen by many as the grand dame of the psychological thriller, while others have said she was a psychological novelist, who explored the much more disturbing and darker nature of the human mind and soul. Others have called her one of the greatest modernist writers. Graham Greene called Patricia Highsmith “the poet of apprehension.” But what Patricia Highsmith is and forever will be a novelist or a writer, of crime fiction. A practitioner of the noir crime fiction.

“A Curious Suicide,” is a story that is much like the rest of Patricia Highsmith’s stories, and novels. Murder is the game. But the murder of Patricia Highsmith’s stories and novels, are not the kind of stuff that is written in the most sensational manner. The language is plain. The prose is anything but overly descriptive. In the world of Patricia Highsmith, cops are incompetent. Women are dangerous creatures, who exploit, and are conniving. Friends are just hidden double edged creatures, that you pretend to like, and they pretend to like you just as much back. This is the world of Patricia Highsmith. A world that is strikingly similar to the world, which anyone could inhabit.
In “A Curious Suicide,” the reader is introduced to Doctor Stephen McCollough – that is one of the many aspects that I love, about Patricia Highsmith is that all the names are quite predominantly Anglo-Saxon, making them easy to pronounce; Doctor McCollough loved at one point in time a woman by the name of Margaret. But Margaret ended up marrying another man, by the name of Roger Fane. A man that Doctor McCollough despises. Roger Fane is a worm of a man. He cheated on Margaret when they were married. Even after her death he doesn’t think much of the fact that she died. All of this infuriates Doctor McCollough who is married to the cruel, nasty and mean woman by the name of Lillian. He loved Margaret, and his hatred for Roger Fane and infatuation with Margaret, are enough to drive, Doctor McCollough to have thoughts of murder. Thoughts at first that he doesn’t take to seriously. But as the story goes on, there certainly is something terribly wrong with Doctor McCollough. The incredible fraudulent dance the two tango two as they talk and pretend to enjoy each other’s company is disgusting to watch. Then suddenly without warning, and on impulse, Doctor McCollough commits the deed that is all too common in Patricia Highsmith’s work. What follows is just the aftermath of his deed. The inadequacy of police force. The death – or a curious suicide if you will; of an innocent though violently disturbed man; and the machinations and black mail of Lillian. This is the kind of classic Patricia Highsmith.

Confessing, confiding, conceding, declaring, admitting – and so on; I didn’t like this story by Patricia Highsmith as much as I did “Broken Glass.” This entire story felt forced. It felt too simple. It didn’t have that kind of common place, barbaric behaviour that “Broken Glass,” did. It just felt like a simple plot, through together. Every moment was a bead, and a piece of string just connected them all together. I suppose all the stories read this week were hits and misses. I didn’t quite enjoy Alice Munro’s story or Will Self’s or Patricia Highsmith’s stories either. But I was able to enjoy the stories that Yasunari Kawabata Nobel Laureate of Literature in nineteen-sixty eight, Saki, and Amy Hempel provided. It was a fifty /fifty week for stories, but each one had something to share. Hopefully next week it will be a better time for the short stories, that will be chosen to read.

No comments:

Post a Comment