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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 509

A Hole in None

  1. In Rob Crandall’s “In the Hole”:

    1. The narration is necessarily all interior monologue, and it forms a kind of litany. The minor refrain “Don’t ask me why” appears three times. Does it always refer to something bad?
    2. Why did the narrator assault Ronny and Mike? What are the narrator’s “hot buttons,” i.e. what is likely to trigger violence?
    3. What “cool buttons,” i.e. peaceful thoughts, does the narrator have? He refers to the TV series Mayberry three times. Do readers have to be familiar with the details of that program in order to understand what it might mean to him?
  2. In Nina Pratt’s “The Dead Artist”:

    1. Is the dead artist real or is he an allegorical figure? Would even Max tolerate keeping a corpse in her apartment?
    2. By what stages is the growing rift between Bo and Max depicted?
    3. Change the gender of each of the characters in turn, from female to male or vice-versa, including the dead artist. How does the story play out? Is sexuality at all relevant to what Bo learns about herself?
  3. In Gary Smothers’ “Tom Ford, the Girl and Rejection”:

    1. Why is it somewhat implausible that Tom Ford would be surprised to see that Dolly is missing some parts?
    2. At what point can the reader infer that “Dolly” is not real but is, rather, Tom Ford’s hallucination?
    3. Bonus challenge: Condense the story to flash-fiction length, i.e. shorter than 1,000 words.
  4. In Ron Van Sweringen’s “The Boy Next Door”:

    1. How do most “white men” show Erthelene their contempt? Do all of them act in the same way?
    2. At what point can readers infer that Billy Joe may be doomed? As of chapter 4, what fate does he seem likely to meet?

Responses welcome!

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