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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 306

“There Is No Story So Truly Bewildering...”

  1. John Stocks’ All My Dreams”:

    1. As a rule, John Stocks’ poetry interprets real-life experiences. What is the historical reality behind the lines:
      The beast Thatcher saved us from this [...]
      Smothering our sleep with bitter irony [...]
      Who can be glad or sad at the same time?
    2. Explain the apparent contradiction in “The beast Thatcher saved us from this.” What is the “bitter irony” the poem illustrates?

    3. A textbook editor might add a historical commentary to the poem. Why is it not necessary to do so here?

    4. What classical theme does the poem fit? Click on the one or ones you consider most likely:
  2. In William J. Piovano’s “Escapism”:

    1. Visual descriptions can normally be taken for granted in fiction, although they are not easy to write successfully. How are both visual and tactile sensations incorporated into the characters’ experiences?

    2. What functions do the minor characters in the story have?

    3. What is the irony in the title of the story?

  3. Nik Perring’s “Zalon the Hairdresser” has an “open” ending. That is, the action reaches a conclusion and at the same time suggests a sequel. What do you think the sequel might be?

  4. In P. S. Gifford’s “Strong Stomachs”:

    1. Is the ending “open” or merely empty?
    2. What function does the cab driver serve? Can the character be removed entirely without losing anything in the story?
    3. With what country is voodoo normally associated? Hint: it’s not Jamaica.
    4. Is the story culturally insensitive? If so, how might that be avoided?
  5. In Oonah Joslin’s “Celestial Sunflower”:

    1. How much does the photograph add to the poem?
    2. How might the image of the sunflower be developed to reflect the visual impact of the photograph?
    3. Does the ending of the poem overstep Bewildering Stories’ guideline against sentimentality?
  6. In Slawomir Rapala’s “A New Beginning,” peasants who flee to the countryside are massacred by the enemy. By the end of the war, the undefended castle has been sacked and lies in ruins. What becomes of Rosalia and her mother? Does it matter? Why might it be preferable that they not be referred to again in the novel?

    The TV series Star Trek became notorious for its “red-shirt” actors and characters who played in only a single episode or whose primary function was to give Dr. “Bones” McCoy a chance to repeat one of his signature lines to Capt. Kirk: “He’s dead, Jim.” How many “red-shirt” characters can you name in The Three Kings? Which would you have liked to see play more important roles?

Responses welcome!

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