Wednesday, July 9, 2008

On "Based on a True Story" by Dave Peters (886 words) *****

This is a story I've always wanted to write but could never get right. It's the story of the end of a life, and the seeming consciousness that goes along with it--the knowledge that you are going to die, in minutes--and what you are you going to do? I have never been able to find the intensity needed to put the story in the right place, that mix of mundane and superimportant, the will to live versus the growing resignation to fate. Peters, here, manages all of that with skill. At 886 words, this story seems so much longer than it really is. Time slows, as one would expect, at this moment, given the full-on lengthy, real-time description of the process of suffocation. But where too many stories would fail in this description, this one succeeds. I think the reason might be that Peters wisely shifts views in the middle, moving from the victim to those around. This has the effect of making things seem to take that much longer, and it increases the harshness and the sadness of the final paragraph as we watch the woman making her last stabs at air. Read the story here.


Anonymous said...

I agree, good story. But what's all this Japanese history doing here? I vote for focusing on the short story. I'm sure you could find ways to work Japanese history into short story reviews.

Short Story Reader said...

I'm currently doing a whole bunch of reading on Japan. I try to keep track of all my reading this way, booklength and storylength. A book review is always paired with a online story review (a story review, by contrast, is not always paired with a book review). Perhaps, there's a way I can better separate the stories from the books in the treatment of the heads. I'll research it, and if there is, I'll institute the changes. If not, oh well.

Short Story Reader said...

Okay, note these changes: All book reviews are in brown font; all story reviews in black. New tags have been created for the general category "Stories" and for the general category "Books." Because an online story is always at the top of the page, it will be very easy to simply click on the Stories tag, and that will eliminate all of the books from the listings; likewise, if for some odd reason one wants to read about books, then one can find those by clicking on the books tag under one of the books.