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Stories 188-189

I brought with me on this trip a folder of stories torn out of the issues of The New Yorker that were sitting piled in my living room unread.  I wanted to get the magazines out of the house and into the recycling bin before I left, but I didn't want to just not read the stories -- they are the main reason I subscribed in the first place (the idea was, as each issue came I'd be guaranteed to read at least one story a week.  yeah, right).

I hit the end of the folder tonight, and realized that if I get the comments posted here, I can leave the pages for the hotel to recycle with my USA Todays, and that will lighten my backpack for the trip home on Weds.

The wireless connection has been a bit hit or miss tonight, so I'm going to post the comments in short batches rather than one long post behind an LJ cut.  Just to make sure I won't lose it all and have to retype it!  (Yes, I could write it up in word and then post it, but that never seems to work well for me.)

I'm trying to put the stories together in some sensible groupings.  So here are two stories that have nothing in common beyond the fact that they were written by authors who are not Caucasian.

Story 188:  The Headstrong Historian by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, from the  June 23, 2008 New Yorker.   The title only makes sense in the last quarter or less of the story, which is when the character it describes finally shows up.  The rest of this is a Colonial period piece, from the perspective of a south Nigerian woman who sees her culture changing around her and wonders if she's doing the right thing for her son.  The story is well told, straight forward, minces no words when it comes to how harsh people (in this case, women) can be to each other.  We have a tendency to pounce on percieved weakness, and sometimes it pounces back in a way we don't expect.

Story 189: The House Behind A Weeping Cherry by Ha Jin, from the April 7, 2008 New Yorker.  Points for taking place in Queens NY and mentioning Shea Stadium.  I haven't lived in Queens since I was in first grade, so much of the landscape is fuzzy to me, even the places that should be familiar like Astoria and Flushing.  But this story isn't about the setting.  It is told from the perspective of a Chinese immigrant worker who ends up taking an apartment in a house with a madam and three prostitutes.  He gets to know the women and develops an understanding of how their situation is not so different from his own.  The story was okay, but not captivating.  I couldn't help but picture it as a Lifetime Movie For Women, even though the protagonist is a man.

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