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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 252

Where in the World are We?

In this issue we have three stories, a memoir, and a poem in which the action takes place in particular settings:

  1. What cultural and, especially, urban geographical clues in Jean-Michel Calvez’ “A Poem for Emma” indicate that the story is set in France or, more generally, western Europe? How might a North American have written the story?

  2. Fernando Sorrentino’s “A Question of Age” is obviously set in Spain or in a Latin American country. Can you tell which? How would it affect the story to replace the cultural references with those of another country?

  3. Ranvir Singh Parmar’s “Creepers and Grapevines” is apparently set in India. What makes the humor “travel” well enough that it is easily understandable to a North American audience?

  4. John Stocks’ “Utopia” is a “tiny story” that is obviously set in England. What clues indicate the historical setting? What is the “utopia” the poem’s title refers to?

  5. Mel Waldman’s memoir “The Short Life of Johnny Apocalypse,” was originally titled “Harlem Blackout.” The current title de-emphasizes the location. Is that an advantage or disadvantage? Why? What makes “Johnny Apocalypse” a true memoir rather than a psychologist’s case history?

Responses welcome!

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