Short Stories All the Time

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

24 March, 2013

Julie Otsuka, "Diem Perdidi"

This second-person story shows the decline of a mother who is suffering from dementia. The structure of the story is wonderful. Interspersed within a series of sentences recalling what her mother remembers and what she doesn't remember are sentences in italics that are statements made by her mother. The really poignant part is when at times she remembers and then doesn't remember and vice versa.

"She remembers the name of the president's dog,"appears early in the story and toward the end, "She does not remember the name of the president's dog."

And sometimes she remembers both early in the story and late in the story. "She remembers the scorpions and red ants."

Otsuka has captured brilliantly in the structure, voice and POV of the story the arbitrariness of memories in a person with dementia. "Diem Perdidi" feels immediate and close and the italics denoting statements made by the mother instead of she said's works very well in allowing the smooth flow of the story.

"Diem Perdidi" was first published in Granta: 117 and subsequently selected for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 2012.

Reading her interview endeared her to me as I studied painting and drawing as well. The way she compares making a painting and writing a short story is exactly how I've explained it to people.

Otsuka's web page
Otsuka interview with Harper's Magazine (about her novels)