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2009 Stories 210 - 214

Two more from recent issues of The New Yorker, and three from the audiobook Chattery Teeth and Other Stories by Stephen King.  So I did indeed finish that collection on the way to Dallas today.

210.  The Valetudinarian by Joshua Ferris from the 08/03/09 issue of The New Yorker.  I'm not completely sure how I felt about this one.  I think I liked it.  I certainly didn't dislike it.  I'm still not sure what the title actually means.  The story is about a miserable old retiree who has a bit of an epiphany because of something that happens on his birthday.  It's also about how we fall into habits, fall out of touch, and fail to see connections between things.

211. The Five Wounds by Kristin Valdez Quade from the 07/27/09 issue of The New Yorker.  Passion plays have always been a part of the celebration of Christ's final days before the Crucifixion, and of course for some people (for some sects) it's not so much a play as a way for the community to feel like they are a part of what happened.  This story is about a Hispanic man chosen to play Jesus in a re-enactment, and how his personal life seems to be leading him to outdo the most well-known Jesus in his community -- but can he actually go to the lengths required to replace that legend in his community's mind?  I could really feel the obsession of both the POV character and of the people in his community.

212. My Pretty Pony by Stephen King.  Read by Jerry Garcia.  This is one of King's stories that has nothing to do with horror.  A grandfather "instructs" his grandson on the nature of time.  At some points I felt the language was a little too folksy / cutesy, and I'm still not clear on why the granfather chooses to use the term "my pretty pony time" to describe that period in life where time neither seems to run too long (like when you're little) or too short (when you're older).  Overall though, the story hangs together well despite a very odd reading by this Jerry Garcia (not the musician as far as I can tell unless this was recorded a long time ago) and what seem to be some production gliltches in terms of volume and balance.

213. Sneakers by Stephen King.  Read by David Cronenberg.  The shortest of the four stories in this particular cd collection is also probably the most traditional genre story.  A man sees a pair of beat-up sneakers in the first stall of the third floor men's room, and becomes convinced they belong to a dead body, or at least to a ghost, although no-one else seems to notice or care.  The ending falls a little flat -- I was expecting more of a resolution than I got.  Still, overall a good story and Cronenberg does a fine reading.

214. Dedication by Stephen King.  Read by Lindsay Crouse.  The question in this story is: to what lengths will a newly-pregnant woman go to ensure that her baby will grow up with opportunities she, and her no-account husband, didn't have?  The story involves a moment shocking enough (at least at the time the story was published originally) that King opts at first not to actually describe it, but rather just to show another character's reaction to it.  He does eventually clue you in on what the main character did, but he eases you into it which has the effect of building tension.  Did she really do it?  Will she do it again? And did it really accomplish what it seems to have accomplished?


A Story A Day Keeps Boredom Away

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