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Monthly Archive for January, 2013

I know that this is fiction. That’s what this class is about: writing and reading fiction. Even so, when I finished reading “A Life on Paper” by Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud, I couldn’t help but search the internet for some evidence that the story is true. I Googled “Kathrin Laetitia Siegling,” and “Siegling-Brunet Collection.” Of course, I only […]

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“Fox Magic” – Kij Johnson

“No I didn’t care what was best for him. I wanted what I wanted. I am only a fox, after all.” Kij Johnson’s narrative journey into the complexities of love is incredibly brilliant in its perspective and use of magic to bring life to ancient Japan and the relationships that exist within it.  I was particularly […]

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I think that part of what makes this story so interesting to me, learning about how to incorporate elements of the fantastic into writing, is how subtly it is done. “A Life on Paper” is an exceptional example of how a story doesn’t have top be steeped in the supernatural to be considered fantastic. It […]

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It has been said that angels are stationed in the blissful folds of Heaven while the Devil roams among Earthbound sinners. This theory, however, is partially proven invalid in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” as soon as a fallen angel lands in a mortal’s courtyard. He was dressed like a […]

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ” A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” did not raise the typical question that I would have expected it to raise given the story’s title. Instead of questioning why an old man would possess enormous wings, I found myself wondering about the woman who was changed into a tarantula and her […]

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Then he noticed that seen up close he was much too human: he had an unbearable smell of the outdoors, the backside of his wings was strewn with parasites and his main feathers had been mistreated by terrestrial winds, and nothing about him measured to the proud dignity of angels. Marquez’s, “A Very Old Man […]

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We who live here can on first glance pick out from a hundred pictures of unnamed streets the only one from our town. This is because the secret germinations of our facades and our rooftops always show through in some sign only we detect. Chateaureynaud’s “A Citizen Speaks” begins casually enough. The first few sentences […]

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Kij Johnson’s book of short stories, At the Mouth of the River of Bees, opens with “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss.” The narrator Aimee travels the carnival circuit performing her magical act where 26 monkeys pile into a bathtub and magically disappear. A good magician never reveals her secrets, but Aimee is not a good […]

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The Trick to the Bathtub Trick

I was skeptical about “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss.” I’m skeptical about most short stories I read, because I haven’t experienced so many of them that the novelty or distrust of variation has worn off. So when I saw how Johnson had divided up her story into 24 short sections, I worried. It’s hard not […]

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Kids in General

So most people have already pointed out the connection between “Cat ‘n’ Mouse” and Tom and Jerry. I, of course, noticed this similarity as well. But then it got me thinking. Isn’t all children’s television a bit fantastic? Don’t animals talk and fairy tales come true in the average Disney movie or Nick program? Why […]

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Vanishing Acts

Kij Johnson, author of At the Mouth of the River of Bees, bewitched me from the moment I read the title of the first story in her collection, “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss.” Johnson’s story reads much like a timeline of the main character’s life, beginning with her strange, yet captivating monkey act and ending […]

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There are several elements of the fantastic or the macabre in this story: the blight that is a part of the narrator’s life and the history of this place but which is so little understood that it doesn’t have a name and which no one seems to be studying (as a scientist, I find this […]

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Like several others who wrote posts prior to mine, I too can see the cartoon of Tom and Jerry played out through the genius of the written word. I love how each description is slowly presented. Each detailed description of a scene allows me more than enough details to really see the actions performed by […]

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‘Things have a life of their own,’ the gypsy proclaimed with a harsh accent. ‘It’s simply a matter of waking up their souls.’ José Arcadio Buendia, whose unbridled imagination always went beyond the genius of nature and even beyond miracles and magic, thought that it would be possible to make use of that useless invention […]

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“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”

The style of writing that Kij Johnson uses in “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” is different from any other short story I have read.  Johnson divides the story into twenty-four sections.  The beginning sections describe Aimee’s actions for the vanishing act she performs with the 26 monkeys and what they do from day to day. […]

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Spelling it Out

Like Kafka, Chateureynaud has little interest in explaining away the fantastic or in dulling its claws: the dreamy strangenesses to be found in his stories simply exist and must be taken at face value. –From the foreword in Life on Paper: Stories, by Georges-Olivier Chateureynaud Accepting the fantastic at face value is easy when the author […]

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When I started to read “Cat ‘N’ Mouse,” the first story in Millhauser’s book, immediately I could see the voiceless animation of “Tom and Jerry.” It’s almost too obvious that this story is the written representation of the iconic cartoon. It follows the classic pranks each animal pulls on the other and even provides the appropriate […]

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The beginning of “A Citizen Speaks” did not give me any hints as to what the story was about. So, when the narrator says “That was how my father died…” I was caught off guard. The rust mentioned in the beginning seems to be a sort of foreshadowing of how the narrator chooses to describe […]

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Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, […]

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Steven Millhauser “…Art is connected in my mind—in my body—with a sense of enhancement, of radical pleasure, of affirmation, of revelry. Darkness is the element against which this deeper force asserts itself. It may even be that this force deliberately seeks out darkness, in order to assert itself more radically.”  In Transatlantica (2003). “I’m fanatically reluctant to […]

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