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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 573

Suggest a Revelation

  1. In Prashila Naik’s “Portrait of My Youth”:

    1. Does the opening paragraph depict a character who is insensitive or unaware? What state of mind does it really depict?
    2. The narrator breaks a picture frame and the glass. Why is she unable to destroy or throw away the photos themselves?

    3. What does The Scarlet Letter seem to tell the narrator about her own life?
  2. In Simon Smith’s “A Short, Happy Life”:

    1. Mr. Swackhammer’s life is not short, neither is it happy. What justifies the title?
    2. In what way does the story not overstep our guideline about stories that end with “but it was all a dream” or the equivalent?

    3. How might Mr. Swackhammer react to Ms. Bloch’s letter:
      1. “Oh no! I’ve wasted my life!”

      2. “No! Set the prisoners free. Auto-Mate really does work!”

      3. “The fraudsters have been jailed for the wrong reason: Auto-Mate works too well. It’s turned me into a facsimile of Meursault, in Albert Camus’ L’Étranger.”

  3. In Raud Kennedy’s “Cookie Cutter”:

    1. What does the poem imply about conformity and cultural stereotyping?
    2. What is the irony in the narrator’s being viewed as “cool” in Japan?
  4. In Ron Van Sweringen’s “The Apple Giver”:

    1. Is the ending tragic or comic?
    2. How might the story end other than by an accident?
    3. Why might some readers feel that Matthew and Lena are especially interesting characters?
  5. Is Zane Blom’s “The Old Man From Garrow” poetry or prose with line breaks? What more would be needed if the story were told as flash fiction?

Responses welcome!

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