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Monthly Archive for February, 2014

“Starving”

…he didn’t know which of the two would happen, but it would – waiting like Muffin Luke for open heart surgery, not knowing if he would die on the table or live. (pg.101) Harmon’s marriage is slowly killing his spirit, and by deciding to leave Bonnie to be with Daisy, he has made a choice, no […]

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Mystery in “The Beggar Maid”

Munro continues to have subtlety with her writing — well, throughout all of her works that I have read at least. I really enjoyed the subtlety in “The Beggar Maid” with the relationship between Patrick and Rose. They meet because this oddball of a character, Rose, serendipitously runs into Patrick in the library. Through third […]

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Chinelo Okparanta – Beauty

Chinelo Okparanta uses a common theme of beauty, and what it means to be beautiful, in many of her stories. “Fairness” centers on the idea of beauty as defined by skin color, a gradient scale of beauty that the main character and her friend Eno desperately search for. It is the feeling of desperation that […]

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Runs Girl

There is something about Okparanta’s stories that make me want to read more. At first I thought it was her amazing use of imagery and sensory details. While I believe it is partially due to this, I believe it also to be the situations of women of which she chooses to write about. They are […]

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Like a Mirror

Rose in “The Beggar Maid” reminded me of the conversation we had in class about Harmon in “Starving.” We talked about our natural tendency to want characters to fit into a specific, easy mold and achieve their satisfying, if not happy, endings. We also talked about how this can take some of the “life” out […]

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Runs Girl – 2/27 Blog

Okparanta’s Runs Girl is about Ada, a college student whose mother had gotten deathly sick with some type of ailment.  With her father dead, the family’s income was in dire straits, so of course, they were not able to afford the medical expenses in order for Ada’s mother to get better. In comes Njideka, one […]

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The Cry of Moo

“How could you let them impregnate her!” I scold my husband. “She’s too old, and you know it!” My husband is George L. “Tripp” Craig the third. His father was George the second; his father’s father was, of course, the first. For many generations the Craig family has raised, bred, and sold Black Angus cattle; so […]

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I don’t know why Elizabeth Strout seems to want to write the same boring guy over and over again. All of her male characters seem to have a “fondness” or a “tenderness” towards the women in their lives. They’re all slightly dissatisfied or disillusioned with their lives and seek solace in this misguided idea of […]

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Starvation

Starving – Strout It is telling that in this story Strout uses Daisy’s kitchen as the scene in which people in all forms of starvation are present; emotional, physical, and mental. In a kitchen, one can get physical food, comfort food, rejuvenating food, creative food, or sometimes even emotional sustenance. None of these will fulfill […]

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Alice Munro’s short story “Royal Beatings” is about the love-hate relationship between a stepdaughter (Rose) and her stepmother (Flo). Munro has captured the complexities within this kind of family bond by her use of third-person narration and the shifting of different tenses in the story. The story begins by immediately introducing both of the main […]

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We are thirsty for fairness.(35) The theme of color in Okaparanta’s “Fairness” is powerful throughout the entire story. The story is narrated by a young dark-skinned girl who has been heavily influenced — perhaps even brain-washed — by her elders to have an overwhelming desire for fair skin. The story’s focus on this obsession with […]

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C’est La Vie

In “Wild Swans,” by Alice Munro, readers are thrust back into the lives of Rose and Flo.  Munro opens the story with Flo’s superstitions regarding White Slavers and Ministers, things she has witnessed, which aids in dating her as much older than when we first encounter her from the previous story, “Royal Beatings,” and her […]

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Hush, Hush

In Alice Munro’s “Royal Beatings,” every sentence is written with a straightforward nonchalance that brings an honesty and believability to the voice. The violence that occurs in the story is presented without any of the characters batting a single eyelash and the community at large seems to pretend that they’re perfectly justified in what they […]

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One aspect of storywriting I generally struggle with is creating conflict and adding complexity. As we touched upon in class, a good way to add conflict and generally make stories more complex is to add more characters. Just as with “Material” by Alice Munro, Elizabeth Strout’s “Starving” focuses on a couple falling out of love […]

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Strout and Munro

Beginning with Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge and the short stories “A Little Burst” and “Starving,” I found it really amazing how differently the two were presented.  In “A Little Burst” the story is written from Olive’s point-of-view in present tense. Present tense point-of-view tends to be difficult for me to write because out of habit I […]

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Story, Story Irony!

Okparanta shows that loneliness and ridicule can lead people to embark on desperate acts. In “Story, Story!” the way in which these many stories of  Nneoma are told and revealed to readers is almost similar to the way movies like to reveal past events. I found that if you’re not paying close attention to the […]

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Strout, “Starving”

They wore no wedding bands, Harmon noticed, and he turned his gaze out to the bay. Strout is able to capture a lot in small sentences like the one above. In this sentence she is able to show, not tell the reader all of Harmon’s personal values and help us to understand the focus of […]

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A Little Burst – 2/18

In “A Little Burst,” Olive is back to being a main character. Obviously, a significant amount of time has gone by because her son Christopher is now middle-aged and getting married. To me, while she’s happy that her son isn’t going to be alone as he gets older, she’s also sad that she is losing […]

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Story, Story

Story, Story Please, PLEASE don’t tell us! This revelation story is depressing due to the darkness of the narrator’s mind and actions. Since she obviously is off her rocker, and she has acted on these dark thoughts, she needs to get concrete, immediate help. Superstition drives her actions, but she is nearly totally out of […]

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Dog’s-Tooth Violet

I broke open the earth, cracked it with my spade like two thumbs into an orange peel. On my knees, I pulled the spade towards me, leaving behind a dark little hole. Reaching into the red string bag, I plucked a bulb and dropped it into the hole. The instructions had said to wait until […]

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What No Words Will Do

I cannot recall any other writers other than Chinelo Okparanta who have ever made me feel so uncomfortable reading their stories. In “Wahala,” it is Ezinne’s passivity and others’ misunderstandings of her pain. In “Fairness,” it is Uzoamaka’s heartbreaking desire to look like someone else, someone she perceives as better only by the color of […]

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Story, Story

Okparanta has a wonderful way of writing about the situations of people, women in particular, in accordance with family aspirations and idealistic beauty. “Story, Story” is no exception. The first descriptions of the parents’ hopes for this young woman begin the argument of family values. For one, this family wants this young woman to get […]

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Yesterday afternoon, I had dinner with the rock star among poets, the Poet Laureate of the United States, Natasha Threthewey. She was brilliant in every aspect of the word as she spoke of her incredible journey to becoming one of the most prolific poets of our generation. Professor Threthewey was incredibly down-to-earth and took the […]

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Franklin Music, Excersize 3

Sorry this is late and long; had to edit down, but it didn’t help much! Franklin Music – Exercise 3 Brown Gennesee stepped into the store and quietly closed the door. Even though the bell had announced her presence, no one appeared to ask, “May I help you?”, and she was glad. She loved to […]

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Before the Start

When the gun goes off, it’s like the start of planting season, you have to decide if you’re going to be gutsy and go or cautious and wait.   I hate the start. I hate the moment after you take your sweats off and the still-not-spring air attacks your arms and legs, making your muscles […]

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