Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Lessing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lessing. Show all posts

29 January, 2014

Doris Lessing, "A Year in Regent's Park"

Over twenty pages about nature and a park and a garden and the birds and the weather and trash and people is suspenseful, loamy, rejuvenating, fresh, dying. I found myself holding my breath as I read this story by Doris Lessing.

One of my many favorite lines: "A strong breeze sent leaves spinning down, and the smell of the stagnant parts of the lakes was truly horrible, making you wonder about the philosophy of the parkkeekpers-it was against their principles to clear away the smelly rubbish?"  The location of the story takes place near Regent's Park in London, "…twenty minutes' strolling time from Marble Arch, on a canal."

The story covers an entire year from the viewpoint of a person who lived nearby and owned a twenty by seventy foot backyard garden. At the end of the story, she sees the city from a low flying plane, as if a bird. The close attention to detail is extremely important helping the reader see and smell and hear nature. Often we gloss over changes in nature taking them for granted in the seemingly soft and precious ways they change when in reality nature is violent, swift and ruthless.

Some sentences long and some paragraphs very long as well contribute to the physiological experience of breathlessness matching the changes in the weather, plants and animals. Some words in the story: snapped, gripped, squelched, clutching, suppressed, ravenous, swallowed, burst, violent growth, hunched, tugging.

27 January, 2014

Doris Lessing, "An Old Woman and Her Cat"

Nineteen pages are devoted to an old woman and the cat that keeps her company. Hetty's husband died and her children thought she "was not respectable" and "did not exist for them." The story comments on poverty, homelessness and the failure of a society and family.

We learn at the beginning of the story that Hetty died at age seventy and the story takes us through the last portion of her life. For me, the story is about non-conformity. Hetty doesn't conform and never regrets it. "Once she realized that her children were hoping that she would leave them alone because the old rag trader was an embarrassment to them, she accepted it…"

Doris Lessing won the Nobel prize for literature in 2007.

"An Old Woman and Her Cat" was first included in the collection, The Story of a Non-Marrying Man,  in London and then in the United States published and retitled in the collection, The Temptation of Jack Orkney and Other Stories.

Lessing's largest archive is held at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas.

a page about Doris Lessing
Wikipedia page
Harry Ransom Center, Austin, Texas