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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 510

Striking Notes

  1. In M. E. McMullen’s “Atonally Yours,” why might readers think that the story resembles a roman à clef, namely a story in which the characters represent real people and, perhaps in some cases, real events?

  2. In Doug Draime’s “Letter From an Old Flame,” is the poem actually flash fiction?

  3. In Sherman Smith’s “Singing With Caruso Questa o quella”:

    1. What do the lyrics mean?
    2. How do Charles and the Clurichaun change their drinking salutations between the opening and closing frames of the story?
    3. In a frame story, the embedded story normally answers a question expressed or implied in the opening frame. Is that the case in this story? What question or questions are answered?
  4. In Robert Earle’s “The Unbefriended Dead”:

    1. The story takes the form of a fictional newspaper article. What is the effect of its peculiar form? What might be gained or lost if the story took a different form?
    2. Does the narrator ever explain or even understand why he takes an interest in the dead boy? What might readers think is the cause of his fascination?
    3. How does the story resemble the author’s “Looking Back at What Lay Ahead” in issue 508?
  5. In Ken Goldman’s “Homework”:

    1. Alex Trenton lives in a middle-class, English-speaking environment; otherwise the story is set in no particular locality. Would Mary Agnes’ reign of terror occur today? If so, where?
    2. How might Sister Mary Agnes feel about the “homework” Alex Trenton writes in the nursing home?
    3. Do the caretakers show any more sympathy for Alex than his old teacher did?
    4. Why is Mary Agnes’ lesson the only one that Alex Trenton ever learns? What does the story seem to imply about Alex? About religious education in general?

Responses welcome!

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