Bewildering Stories

Challenge 371

Accidental Design

  1. In Bertil Falk’s “A Touch of Truth”:

    1. “Frame stories” contain “a story within a story,” one that is normally bracketed by an introductory scene and a closing scene. “A Touch of Truth” has a lattice-like structure with an intermittent frame and extended flashbacks. What is the function of the frame sequences in the story?

    2. The story ends with an accumulation of clues and events not previously known to the reader. Are they crucial to “solving” the mystery or are they basically incidental?

    3. At what point does the murderess betray her intent and give herself away?

    4. What clues indicate that the story is part of a series of stories featuring the narrator as the main character?

  2. Three works in this issue are distinguished by specialized use of language:

    1. Will Gray’s “I’m Just a Villain” is told largely in criminal slang. What makes the specialized vocabulary easy to decode?

    2. Channie Greenberg’s “A Quick Sociology Lesson” depicts language encoded for sociological and political purposes. What makes the terminology difficult to decode? How might the culturally loaded variants be resolved to common concepts?

    3. Does R D Larson’s “Summahtime Woes” reflect the speech of any particular ethnic group? Click here for a hint. Why might the poem parody a “corn-pone” accent?

  3. In Bob Brill’s “Surviving Flight 1432”:

    1. Why is Laura Battaglia not an analogue of the mythological Cassandra?

    2. If the psychic Laura Battaglia told you that your aura predicted a crash, would you ignore her or get off the plane?

    3. Laura Battaglia’s psychic ability to see individual auras may or may not qualify the story as a fantasy; the decision is up to the reader. What else in the story definitely qualifies it as a fantasy or, at the very least, an alternate-universe story?

  4. In Julie Wornan’s “The Socks”:

    1. Why might Elizabeth’s husband — if that’s what he is — remain unnamed?

    2. How are socks normally paired? Shoes? How does Elizabeth imply that people might be paired?

    3. What kind of “mate” might Elizabeth’s current partner deserve?

  5. In Oonah V. Joslin’s “Crunch Time”:

    1. Reconstruct in tablular format — or any legible format, for that matter — the hierarchy of the combination pantheon and pandemonium described by Lumiel.

    2. According to Lumiel’s account, the universe was created by accident rather than intelligent design. How does the story imply that’s not necessarily a bad thing?

  6. In Marina J. Neary’s “What I Remember About Gena”:

    1. Who might Gena be?

    2. What detail indicates that the narrator in the poem might be a girl?

    3. The poem is entirely without affect: the narrator gives no indication how she or he feels about what’s going on. As a consequence, is the poem “dear diary” literature? Or is it the opposite?

  7. Mel Waldman’s “The Father” is listed unconventionally in the issue Index although its Table of Contents is regular. Why is the Epilogue listed in The Critics’ Corner? Do you agree with the editorial decision?


Responses welcome!

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