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December 16, 2007

The Hand

The following is from Leonard Michaels' short story "Eating Out" found in his Collected Stories. The story is organized in small chapters and this chapter is called "The Hand." It tickled my fancy because it is a perfect little story all by itself, a beginning, a middle, and an end, all contained inside the longer story. I smacked my little boy. My anger was powerful. Like justice. Then I discovered no feeling in the hand. I said, "Listen, I want to explain the complexities to you." I spoke with seriousness and care, particularly of fathers. He asked, when I finished, if I wanted him to forgive me. I said yes. He said no. Like trumps....

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October 21, 2007

Shoot Him if He Runs

David Lodge in his book The Art of Fiction in a chapter on suspense writes: Novels are narrratives, and narrative, whatever its medium — words, film, strip-cartoon — holds the interest of an audience by raising question in their minds, and delaying the answers. The questions are broadly of two kinds, having to do with casuality (e.g. whodunnit?) and temporality (e.g what will happen next?) each exhibited in a very pure form by the classic detective story and the adventure story, respectively. Suspense is an effect especially associated with the adventure story, and with the hybrid of detective story and adventure story known as the thriller. Such narratives are designed to put the hero or heroine repeatedly into situations of extreme jeopardy, thus exiting in the reader emotions of sympathetic fear and anxiety as to the outcome. Shoot Him If He Runs by Stuart Woods is a thriller. Woods is one of the authors I read for fun. Stone a former homicide cop and now an attorney who handles the 'dirty jobs' for a big law firm teams up with Holly Barker to track down an off the farm CIA agent and talented assassin. It is in the President's interest to keep the whole thing undercover and so Stone gets the blessing of the White House to find the rogue agent. His disposal is to be left to someone else. In the story it is revealed that the president will have trouble getting re-elected if knowledge of the agent comes out because it is believed he is dead, a rumor the president has endorsed. A hoodwinked right-wing Senator from Utah passes a leaked story to the Drudge Report at a crucial moment that prevents the story that the assassin is still alive from being believed. Making dupes of Utah politicians is, it seems, rising to the level of a stock device in novels of this kind. If you like thrillers, this is a pretty good read....

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