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“Rose Wept,” by William Trevor

14 Feb

After the last two stories under discussion, this one may seem downright conventional, and yet, its shape is quite distinctive. Let’s try to get to the bottom of this rather understated, curiously affecting story, by discussing the following questions.

Why do you suppose the author chose to tell the story from Rose’s point of view? How would it have been a different story from Mr. Bouverie’s point of view, or his wife’s, the lover’s?

Speaking of point of view, how would you describe the narrative voice? The point of view is certainly Rose’s, but the narrator looking over her shoulder seems to be another presence entirely.

The conflict, of course, is the ongoing affair, but most of the story barely confronts this painful happening. Why should the author concern himself with the coffee house, Rose’s house, and the tutor room, instead of the bedroom where the real action is taking place?

Describe the “weave” pattern. What are the threads? How do they “tie” together?

Much of this story’s power, or charm at least, rests on allusions. Can you find any famous allusions here?

How does the final paragraph justify the rest of the story, link all the various aspects together?

“Father Returns from the Mountain,” by Luis Alberto Urrea

12 Feb

Here we have a lyrical, genre-blending story/essay/prose poem. A lot going on here, formally. And underneath it all rests an ancient story about a son losing his father. Consider the questions below.

Having just read Rick Moody’s “Boys,” we can’t help but see some similarities, as well as important differences. Please compare these two stories.

Surely we have a conflict here. Father has died, and the son is shocked, wounded, and must deal with the death, both physically, intellectually, and spiritually. But is there a crisis, or climax? If so, identify it.

How does the metaphor of truth being a broken mirror work for this story? What is its message?

In your opinion, did the writer get away with turning his father into a ghost? What’s your criteria for making this judgement.

Is this more a story, poem, or essay? Surely it blends all three, but does one genre carry most of the weight?

“Boys,” by Rick Moody

9 Feb

One needn’t read too far into “Boys” to see why it would appear in a class devoted to the formal aspects of fiction. And yet, a fairly traditional story–coming of age–emerges from the technical smoke and mirrors here. Please consider the following questions and discuss.

What’s the most apparent–to you–formal oddity of this story? How does this unusual feature affect the basic narrative? What’s its narrative function?

Moody likes to alter prose rhythm by varying sentence lengths and patterns. He writes longer sentences than most contemporary American writers. Find a long sentence, dissect it, and tell us what you think.

At what point do the twins start to distinguish themselves from one another? Can you briefly describe the basic difference between the two?

What “happens” in the story? Try to pinpoint each moment of change. Does the story have a conventional “plot”? If not, how would you describe the shape?