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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 583

Time, and Again

“Everything we perceive comes to us from the past.
Everything we do goes into the future.”

  1. In John Stocks’ “Demolition”:

    1. At what point in the poem can the reader know that the scene is an abandoned school building?

    2. The poem consists basically of two lists under the implied titles “regret” and “grief.” How are the emotions modulated?

    3. Which senses does the poem evoke? In what ways?

    4. The “steady hum of silence” is technically an oxymoron, but it is not a contradiction for its own sake. What does the image convey?

    5. The narrator’s recollections are deliberate and not exactly a “Proustian moment.” And yet how might Marcel Proust offer consolation “For the time that slipped away, lost forever”?

  2. In Leah Erickson’s “House of Clouds”:

    1. What stages of awareness does Patty traverse in the course of the story?
    2. What does Harold buy in the derelict factory town?
    3. At the end, what images does Harold recall from his life, and in what order?
    4. What might explain Harold’s pathological dependence on Patty even after she dies?
    5. What does Harold’s last thought, “Spider,” imply? Is he going to replicate the effects of the spider bite on Patty or on himself?

    6. In what sense are both Patty and Harold time travelers? In which direction does each travel?

    7. Before Harold put Patty into cryonic suspension in hopes of being able to resuscitate her someday, what question or questions might he have asked himself?

  3. In Michael D. Brooks’ “Slow-Speed Follow”:

    1. What is the tone of Pop’s and Sonny’s conversation?
    2. Sonny doesn’t know who Steve McQueen is. Does the reader have to know in order to understand Pop’s point?
  4. In Sarah Ann Watts’ Winter Ship, “Cold Stars”:

    1. What is the significance of the bear insignia?
    2. What is the function or significance of Kyran’s “circlet”? Is Kyran sure that the servant girl has kept it?
    3. Which characters bring Kyran good fortune, such as it is? What are their motives?
    4. At the end, does Kyran know where the night riders are taking him or who they are?
  5. In Ásgrímur Hartmannsson’s “The Fireman”:

    1. Why can the fireman not possibly show the note to Jonas? How and on what would it have to be written? And why would it be written in the first place?
    2. Why does the fire department not respond to the fire in the Bonus store?
    3. What conclusion would you suggest for the story? What other opening?
  6. In Ross Smeltzer’s “There’s a Beast in the Woods”:

    1. How does the narrator feel about his parents? Do his memories of them seem to change during his stay at the cabin?
    2. Do the narrator’s feelings about Gus seem to change?
    3. Since the narrator believes he can’t harm the Beast, why does he go out into the woods again with his rifle? Whom or what is he going to shoot?
    4. How would you characterize the narrator’s state of mind?

Responses welcome!

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