clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Monday, November 19, 2012

Some Openings

I mentioned yesterday that I was examining some openings from short stories published in _The Best American Short Stories 2012_ edition edited by Tom Perrotta. I've about had enough of the drill and have a few reflections to share.

As telling as the opening are the closing paragraphs. There is a assortment of story-telling styles in the collection and I find the endings important to my enjoyment of the read. I should also say that a few of these are suicide inducing hopeless affairs of depression and end-of-the-worldview. Don't read these with a bottle of scotch and a .45 or the cleaners will curse you for days.

Here are some opening lines from this selection and some observations about things that struck me.

"The Last Speaker of the Language" Carol Anshaw, _New Ohio Review_ 

Darlyn teeters high on a swayback wooden ladder she has dragged in from her mother's garage.
I liked "teeters" and "teeters high" for the language in this line. The "has dragged in" and "from her mother's grage" gave me the image of an older house and that Darlyn is in the kitchen. That turns out to be the case but the language made me think of that before I read farther.  I can see the unsteady ladder and an old-style high ceiling kitchen as was in the "biggest house in town" my Grandfather owned.

"Pilgrim Life" Taylor Antrim, _American Short Fiction_

By Thursday I still hadn't said word one about the accident.
The opening words set up an in-progress story for me right off : "By Thursday." The "word one" gave me an image of the narrator as unpretentious. That wasn't absolutely the interpretation but the general phrasing led me that way. "accident" had my attention. It did so especially in light of the confessional phrase "hadn't said ... accident." I love pregnant confessions.

I'll continue this discussion in the next post. I am concentrating poorly at this moment. Apologies.

No comments: