Sunday, August 13, 2017

Book review: Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

I always manage to find an intriguing read at the church fair and this year was no exception.

A Perfect Day for Bananafish was recommended in an online article I read recently. And it is included in this collection. In fact, it is the first story in this collection. This is my only complaint. Not that I didn't enjoy reading it, I did. Simply because it casts a certain hue on the rest of the stories.

It's plain to see, especially in stories such as Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut, J.D. Salinger ability to develop young adult characters. An ability that is utilized to great effect in his young adult best-seller The Catcher in The Rye

First published by Little, Brown in 1953 and again in 1965 (with subsequent printings by Modern Library in 1959, and Bantam in 1964 and 1981), some of the language and attitude is dated but the underlying messages in the stories are timeless.

Favourite Quote...

'The worst that being an artist could do to you would be that it would make you slightly unhappy constantly.' -from the short story De Daumier-Smith's Blue Pencil

If you enjoy reading this book, you may also enjoy Stone Mattress and The Path of Most Resistance. I did.

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
published by McClelland & Stewart (2014)

In this nine story collection, the grand dame of Canadian literature writes for her age cohorts. I was delighted to discover that many of the stories were written about writing. In Alphinland, an aging author finds comfort from her lonely reality in the world she created. In Revenant, a senior poet dies but lives on in his world. In Dark Lady, the poet's female muse deals with his death. In The Dead Hand Loves You, an elder horror author confronts the toll his fame has taken on his relationship with three decades-old friendships. Torching the Duties is a horror story set in a manor house for the elderly. In Stone Mattress an elderly woman finally takes revenge on the man who sexually assaulted her. Lusus Naturne and The Freeze-Dried Groom don't feature senior protagonists. Both fit into the horror genre.

I closed the book with an increased respect and passion for short stories.

The Path of Most Resistance by Russell Wangersky
published by House of Anansi (2016)

The first story in this collection--Rage--is a work of genius. The ending draws from the story--everything points to it--and yet it surprised me. Having written all of that, if I had to choose, I'd say Farewell Tour was my favourite story in this collection.

On the whole, I'm impressed by Wangersky's mastery of description but puzzled by his sparse dialogue--both internal and external. It's like he's afraid to allow his characters to speak.

photo by LDyck

Sometimes endings are very hard to write...

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Discovering Land (short story) by Leanne Dyck

On Friday, August 4 those of Icelandic descent met in Gimli, Manitoba for the Islendingadagurinn (Icelandic Festival of Manitoba). This year's theme was Discover Your Land. Sadly, I wasn't there. But I did celebrate by writing this short story...

Discovering Land

All Jacky wants is sleep, but her husband won't let her. He rolls in the bed like hair in curlers. It gets worse. Now John is calling out, "It's a lie. It's a lie. It's all lies."

She flicks on the lamp. "What's that, dear?"

"It's a lie. It's a lie. It's all--"

She nudges him awake. "What's the matter, John?"

"Huh. What? Huh."

"Tell me what's troubling you."


"Look, John, that might work with some but not me. I know it's something. Out with it, so I can get back to sleep."

"That space program. I've investigated. It's all a sham," he tells her.

"So they can't send a man to the moon."

He shakes his head.

"Oh, well. Night." She reaches for the lamp.

"No, you don't understand. I'm the president. When the bacon hits the pan I'll have to eat it."

That silences her. But her bottom lip doesn't tremble; her eyes don't fill with tears. "What you need is a camera crew, actors, bubble suits with motorcycle helmets. Oh, yes and a setting. Let me think." It only takes less than a minute. "Yes, of course, Iceland. It looks like the moon."

Photo by LDyck of Iceland (2007)


Keep reading for more photos of Iceland taken on my trip in 2007.