Sunday, February 20, 2011

Troy Spencer - George Kramer

Author: George Kramer
Author web: George's Blog and More
Date: 2009
Setting: anywhere, in the present day
Availability: In the anthology Elements of the Soul

Story: Troy Spencer is awakened by a phone call from his estranged sister, Joan, with the news that their mother has suffered a heart attack and is in the hospital. Outside a storm is raging, with wind tearing small limbs from trees and the rain pelting down. At first it seems as if the sister is the one who is close to their mother, but we learn that Troy is really the one who was most like the older woman.

Their mother dies, and with her last breath makes Troy promise that he will attempt to reconcile with Joan. Skeptical of any positive outcome, but determined to try for his mother’s sake, after the funeral Troy suggests that Joan meet him at their childhood home to sort through their parent’s belongings.

Troy and Joan find some wine and share a bottle. Will the alcohol open up the siblings' emotions so that they can share their thoughts?

Commentary: The story is told from Troy’s point of view, and we don’t get a glimpse of what is happening inside Joan until late in the story. Many people who have trouble getting along with relatives will probably relate to this story– wondering how the other person can act the way they do– and then coming to see things from a different perspective.

Author info: George Kramer has been writing since fifth grade and has over 150 articles published on line, in addition to writing short stories which he is organizing into two collections. He has recently finished a medical thriller, and is working on the sequel.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Kramer was raised on Long Island. He currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife and daughter.

He says, “I want to be recognized for quality work that instills thought.” Learn more about George at George's Blog and More.


Language skills 5
Depth of meaning 6


Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Sojourner - Carson McCullers

Author: Carson McCullers
Date: 1950
Setting: primarily New York, in the 1940s
Availability: Read The Sojourner on line, free

Carson McCullers photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1959 July 31. Collection of Library of Congress

Story: John Ferris, the sojourner, has returned from Paris to the United States for his father’s funeral in Georgia. It is revealed in the first sentences of the story that he has been a world traveler, and his half-awake, half-asleep dreams may symbolize his inability to grasp real life.

While waiting in New York, to catch a plane back to Europe, he happens to see his ex-wife, Elizabeth. He follows her for blocks, but can’t quite convince himself to approach her. He returns to his hotel, and impulsively calls Elizabeth. She invites him to dine that evening with her new husband and family; he accepts.

The evening is pleasant, but with moments of strain, politeness, and always that sense of unreality. Elizabeth plays the piano- reminding John of what he has lost, John speaks cautiously with Bill, her current husband. The most distressing moments come when their young son Billy learns that this stranger and his mother used to be married. He cannot accept this as a possible situation, and after being initially friendly with John, turns hostile when his outbursts result in being told that he can’t stay up to have cake for dessert.

John tries to focus on his current love, Jeannine, and her son. He even portrays the relationship to Elizabeth and Bill as stable and that they are on the brink of marriage. The truth is that Jeannine is just one more woman in a sequence of loves since the divorce, and he doesn’t particularly like her son.

The story closes with a poignant scene, back in Paris, between John and Jeannine’s boy, Valentin. John reaches out in an attempt to create an actual relationship.

Commentary: The Sojourner seems to be descriptive of John Ferris both in a physical sense- he never stays in one place for long, and a psychological sense- he is unable to form lasting relationships.

He was close to his father, but "Papa Ferris" is now dead. He has lost Elizabeth who haunts him; her music keeps coming back to him in inverted, minor motifs, always fragmented. He has lost a father, he has no wife, no son, no one to hold him in one place. There is a sense that John always brings too little to a relationship, and that too late. The final sentence Valentin speaks is the essence of the problem: "Monsieur Jean, the guignol is now closed."

Author info: Carson McCullers was born Lula Carson Smith in the state of Georgia, 1917. She is best known for the novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Her stories were always set in the American South, and always dealt with themes of the difficulties of love and human relationships. Her health was fragile. She suffered several strokes at an early age, and died in 1967.

Unusual Words:
The Tuileries- gardens at the Louvre museum in Paris
guignol- refers to a puppet theatre which is sometimes playing at the Tuileries

Language skills 10
Depth of meaning 10


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Elements of Time

Here is the trailer for the newly released anthology of short stories and poetry from Twin Trinity Media, Elements of Time.

Authors include:
Lindsay Maddox
Rissa Watkins
M. Lori Motley
Andi Caldwell
Steven Thor Gunnin
Jo Brielyn
Lucinda Gunnin
Nancy Smith Gibson
Linda St. Cyr
Cathy Graham

Laurie Darroch-Meekis
Felicity Tillack
Jennifer Wright
Lucinda Gunnin
Andi Caldwell