Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A good short story


It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that I couldn’t put down.  I’m growing more choosy in my old age so I want one that is well-written, has characters I can love and that isn’t vulgar.  Is that too much to ask?  I think not.

Recently I came across a recommendation for some good short stories, which made me think – I don’t know if I’ve read a short story since I was in high school or college and had to read something like Nathaniel Hawthorne or DH Lawrence.  I do remember reading something by Willa Cather but never the story I finished last night.

It’s called Neighbor Rosicky (not a title you might be instantly drawn to) - a sweet story of a good-hearted farmer and his reflections on his life, family and priorities. 

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I’ve read that Willa was criticized for being a romantic, nostalgic writer who ‘could not cope with the present’.  Because she wrote during the Depression, critics said her work 'lacked social relevance' and that her writing 'escaped into an idealized past'.  But I loved it because she so beautifully gets to the heart of her characters – which is always most enthralling to me.

Here is a little excerpt that I thought was wonderful:

“Mary sat watching him intently, trying to find any change in his face.  It is hard to see anyone who has become like your own body to you.  Yes, his hair had got thin, and his high forehead had deep lines running from left to right… He was her man, and the kind of man she liked.  She was rough, and he was gentle.  They had been shipmates on a rough voyage and had stood by each other in trying times.  Life had gone well with them because, at bottom, they had the same ideas about life.  They agreed, without discussion, as to what was most important and what was secondary.  A good deal had to be sacrificed and thrown overboard in a hard life like theirs and they had never disagreed as to the things that could go.” 

I checked the book out at the library, which is how I most often get books. It was really kind of fun to curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and read from start to finish in one sitting!  What a novel idea… reading a short story without being assigned!
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