Deal Me In 2020 – Week 6

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This week I drew the four of spades (apparently, the spades are making their dominance known early on!) which brings me to “The Revolt of ‘Mother'” by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and I absolutely loved this story! This is about the Penn family and Sarah “Mother” Penn standing up to her husband after forty years. Her husband Adoniram had promised to build her a nice house the first year they were married and instead has kept building barns and buying more animals while keeping the family in a tiny house on the property. Sarah finally goes crazy (at least the town folk think she has) and puts her foot down and rebels against her husband. I chuckled a number of times and held my breath a couple of times so you know it was enjoyable!

Freeman definitely has a flair for weaving a tale but the writing style in broken old english can be hard to follow (I had to re-read a couple of sentences several times to understand what the characters were saying) but it was easy enough to figure out after a couple of pages. I would highly recommend this story!

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Deal Me In 2020 – Week 5

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This week I drew the nine of clubs which lead me to “The Egg” by Sherwood Anderson. If the first thought that pops into your head is the age-old question “Which came first? The chicken or the egg?” then you pretty much have summed up this story. It is told from the point of view of the son and his memory of growing up with his parents and their many endeavors into various businesses including chicken farming and owning a restaurant.

“My tale does not primarily concern itself with the hen. If correctly told it will centre on the egg.” (p. 2).

Anderson’s method of story telling is a bit challenging for the reader. There are times when he seems to be remembering something from his childhood and the reader will struggle to understand how it relates to the overarching story. I honestly thought at some points he was just rambling on and forgot his original purpose of the story. I am still not wholly convinced that was not the case. Overall, I did not enjoy this story as much as I hoped I would so I am rather hoping the next one wipes my memory of this one.

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Deal Me In 2020 – Week 4

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For the fourth week of Deal Me In, I pulled the two of spades (seems a trend is developing) which brought me to “Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin. Set in the deep south somewhere around the time of the Civil War, it tells the story of Desiree, adopted daughter of Monsieur and Madame Valmonde, who marries Armand Aubigny and has a son. The story has a bit of a twist/surprise ending so I won’t spoil it here but it was an interesting read.

I’ve never read anything by the author before and her unique writing style makes you feel like you are reading a tale as opposed to feeling like you are part of the actual story. There’s a certain distance to her writing that does not really draw you in but rather keeps you at arms length. Despite this, I definitely felt shock and sadness by the end of the story. I did not know much about Chopin so I did some research and she was considered a strong feminist author in her day which is saying something as she was alive in the Civil War era and there were not too many strong feminist authors at that time. Given the racial tones of this story, this story probably would not be well-received today but you really have to understand the time period it was written to better appreciate the story.

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Deal Me In 2020 – Week 3

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This week I drew the King of Hearts and read “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett. This is a story about a young girl, Sylvia, from the city who now lives with her grandmother on a farm. One day, she meets a stranger who is out hunting birds and he is trying to capture the elusive white heron. Sylvia accompanies him on his quest as he hopes she can lead him to the bird.

As I read this story, I imagined a number of endings and while I was happy with the way it finished, I found it to be somewhat anti-climatic, probably because my imagination tends to run wild. It was a bit challenging to read as well owing to the way the author wrote the story (seems like a mix of old English and southern drawl which is odd since the farm is in New England).

It did remind me of a book I recently finished (“The Snow Leopard” by Peter Matthiessen – I would highly recommend that book). The hero of that book was also looking for a very rare and elusive animal, the snow leopard. It seems there are a number of people throughout history that have written about trying to locate an elusive animal or place with varying success and it makes me wonder what makes people undertake these adventures where the probability of success is so slim? Is it simply knowing that if you reach/see it, the achievement of the goal is that much sweeter? Or it is more about the journey itself, regardless of how it ends? Thoughts?

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Deal Me In 2020 – Week 2

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This week, I drew the Ace of Spades which was “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane. I was incredibly excited to read this as I loved Crane’s other, more well known work, “The Red Badge of Courage” and this did not disappoint.

The story follows four men after their ship capsized trying to navigate their lifeboat through the ocean to find land. The Captain, Oiler, Cook, and Correspondent are in the same boat (literally and figuratively) as they try to steer their way to survival. Whenever I read stories like this, I am always reminded of the three basic themes of a story: man versus man, man versus nature, and man versus himself. This story covers the latter two as the ocean and Mother Nature do their very best to capsize and drown them. The ultimate battle, however, is against their thoughts:

“‘If I am going to be drowned – if I am going to be drowned – if I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees?'”

How often have you worked exceptionally hard, saw the end goal in the distance, and wondered how you made it this far only to have something go terribly wrong and put the end goal in jeopardy? I honestly think this happens to me at least once a year and it is so demoralizing. Now imagine having this thought while stranded at sea in a lifeboat that is leaking and trying to make it to shore. Too often, our minds are our own worst enemy.

One thing I found interesting about this story was that this was based on his experience of being shipwrecked in 1897 (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/stephen-crane). Sometimes, the best stories are the ones that are based on true events.

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Deal Me In 2020 – Week 1

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For the first week of Deal Me In 2020, I pulled the eight of spades (I’m using a deck of cards with the Civil War theme in an attempt to at least have some sort of military theme) which lead me to “Up the Coolly” by Hamlin Garland. This is the story of Howard McLane, a successful actor/director/producer who returns from New York back to Wisconsin to visit his mother and brother. This story resonated with me because I also returned from the East Coast to the Midwest for the holiday season (albeit not as successful as Howard seems to enjoy being)! He comes back to find his family has moved to a different farm and everyone he encounters seems miserable about their circumstances. Howard has a hard time understanding that one really cannot go back home again to what used to be but rather what is now and struggles to reconcile his memories with the new realities. I found Howard to be a bit arrogant in that his observations of his family and friends seemed to be through the lens of how successful he is and how they seem miserable simply for not being as affluent as Howard. Additionally, the way his observations are noted start about how it impacts him and then as he starts to really think through it, trying to understand the observation from his brother’s point of view.

I found the story a bit depressing (maybe because it carries the theme “You can’t go home again” and I always find that a bit sad) which isn’t really the way one wants to start the new year off! Here’s hoping the next story is a bit more cheerful.

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Back from Break

It’s obviously been some time since I have posted on this site (well, really even visited the site!) but I found my reading mojo again. I’m looking to get back to doing a couple of things in 2020 without trying to do too much!

First, I’m back to participating in Deal Me In which is ran by Jay over at Bibliophilica.Wordpress.com – here’s the link if you want to join in as well! I’ll be posting my selections below.

I’m also going to participate in the War and Peace read-along hosted by Nick Senger – here’s the link if you want to participate. It’s one chapter a day through 2020 so it makes it a bit easier to tackle that way. I haven’t read this book before and it’s been on my to-be-read list for quite some time.

I won’t be bringing back Factual Fridays at this time – I want to make sure I can carry out my commitments noted above while continuing to work the crazy hours I do 🙂 Hopefully, you’ll enjoy following me along on this journey, albeit a lighter one than in the past.

 

Card Story Book
2 Hearts WIA Flashes of War
3 Hearts MIA Flashes of War
4 Hearts Rip Van Winkle Great American Short Stories
5 Hearts The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Great American Short Stories
6 Hearts Young Goodman Brown Great American Short Stories
7 Hearts The Minister’s Black Veil Great American Short Stories
8 Hearts The May-Pole of Merry Mount Great American Short Stories
9 Hearts The Fall of the House of Usher Great American Short Stories
10 Hearts The Masque of the Red Death Great American Short Stories
Jack Hearts The Tell-Tale Heart Great American Short Stories
Queen Hearts The Purloined Letter Great American Short Stories
King Hearts Bartleby the Scrivener Great American Short Stories
Ace Hearts The Man Without a Country Great American Short Stories
2 Diamonds My Contraband Great American Short Stories
3 Diamonds The Lady, or the Tiger? Great American Short Stories
4 Diamonds The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Great American Short Stories
5 Diamonds The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg Great American Short Stories
6 Diamonds The Luck of Roaring Camp Great American Short Stories
7 Diamonds The Outcasts of Poker Flat Great American Short Stories
8 Diamonds An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Great American Short Stories
9 Diamonds The Middle Toe of the Right Foot Great American Short Stories
10 Diamonds The Aspen Papers Great American Short Stories
Jack Diamonds The Beast in the Jungle Great American Short Stories
Queen Diamonds Sieur George Great American Short Stories
King Diamonds A White Heron Great American Short Stories
Ace Diamonds The Failure of David Berry Great American Short Stories
2 Spades Desiree’s Baby Great American Short Stories
3 Spades Athenaise Great American Short Stories
4 Spades The Revolt of “Mother” Great American Short Stories
5 Spades A New England Nun Great American Short Stories
6 Spades The Wife of His Youth Great American Short Stories
7 Spades The Yellow Wall-Paper Great American Short Stories
8 Spades Up the Coolly Great American Short Stories
9 Spades The Other Two Great American Short Stories
10 Spades Autre Temps Great American Short Stories
Jack Spades The Gift of the Magi Great American Short Stories
Queen Spades A Retrieved Reformation Great American Short Stories
King Spades The Ransom of Red Chief Great American Short Stories
Ace Spades The Open Boat Great American Short Stories
2 Clubs The Blue Hotel Great American Short Stories
3 Clubs The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky Great American Short Stories
4 Clubs To Build a Fire Great American Short Stories
5 Clubs Paul’s Case Great American Short Stories
6 Clubs The Sculptor’s Funeral Great American Short Stories
7 Clubs Alibi Ike Great American Short Stories
8 Clubs Sophistication Great American Short Stories
9 Clubs The Egg Great American Short Stories
10 Clubs The Outsider Great American Short Stories
Jack Clubs The Colour out of Space Great American Short Stories
Queen Clubs Bernice Bobs Her Hair Great American Short Stories
King Clubs The Diamond as Big as the Ritz Great American Short Stories
Ace Clubs Winter Dreams Great American Short Stories

 

 

 

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Deal Me In 2015: Week 15: “My Son Wanted a Notebook”

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For this week, I drew the four of hearts which takes me back to Katey Schultz’s Flashes of War and the story “My Son Wanted a Notebook”. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.

This is short story at one and half pages but it packs quite a punch. It tells of Anoosah and his family in war-torn Iraq. His mother is attending classes provided by the Americans and Anoosah is learning everything his mother learned in the classes. He wants a notebook and his mother sends him to get one that they can fill together with all the things they learn.

You can tell the story is gearing up for something tragic (I won’t spoil it here) – I just got one of those feelings in the pit of my stomach until the end when it was revealed and then my heart just broke. Schultz is a gifted author if she can make a reader feel all that in a page and a half. And she does this with all her short stories. I honestly believe the shorter her stories, the more emotionally draining they are and I’ve been really trying to figure out how she does it. She doesn’t go into a great level of detail so I can’t say the reader is drawn in by that but I think it’s that most of her stories so far talk about each character with just their first names (at least to start). The reader almost feels like they know the character right off the bat. Schultz gives you just enough of their background so you move from the acquaintance phase to the friend phase fairly quickly. This is what I love about her stories. I’m always excited to pull a heart card for this reason.

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Deal Me In 2015: Week 14: “Home On Leave”

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For this week, I picked the three of hearts which led me to “Home On Leave”, part of Katey Schultz’s Flashes of War. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.

This is one of the longer ones in this book (11 pages) and tells the story of Private Bradley Coates, home on leave from Iraq for two weeks. Bradley joined the Army straight out of high school it seemed where he was a wrestler and less-than-stellar student. He works as a vehicle mechanic so he hasn’t seen much of the war outside of repairing all the vehicles.

The story focuses on Bradley trying to reconcile what people see and assume they know of him as a soldier to how he sees himself as a soldier. Constantly being put down by infantrymen whose vehicles Bradley repairs, going home on leave and heading to a party thrown by his brother Jared makes Bradley feel like he can portray himself differently until a couple of infantrymen who are also home show up to the party.

The majority of the war coverage by the media focuses on the front line battles and the soldiers involved in those. Rarely do we get a glimpse at those who support those on the front line but are often overshadowed. I think this story does a great job of shedding some light on an overlooked part of the Armed Services and what they might be going through when they return home, whether on leave or permanently.

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Deal Me In 2015: Week 13: “Red Tape”

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This week, the first of two stories comes from World War One Short Stories and is “Red Tape” by May Sinclair. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.

This is was a well-timed short story (approximately 10 pages) as I’m also reading the very-not-so-short-story “The Road to 1914: The War That Ended Peace” by Margaret MacMillan which talks about the events leading up to the declaration of World War I. This story covers the same time period so this worked out well to have a different, more personal perspective to those events, even if it was fictional.

“Red Tape” tells of United Charities employees Mr. Starkey and Miss Delacheroy, who have worked closely together for 10 years. They’ve grown close as employees and friends even sharing Sunday teas together. The story starts with their history and the Britain’s ultimatum of Germany which Germany obviously rejected. Mr. Starkey announces he must go to the front and Miss Delacheroy announces that she, of course, must do the same. If he goes, she too must go. Miss Delacheroy is trying to time it so she goes exactly at the same time as Mr. Starkey is trying very hard to delay her going at all. What follows next is all the delays they each encounter trying to get to the front as quickly as they can but in the end, neither goes owing to “‘the system’ and ‘red tape'” (p. 11).

At first I thought this was a love story but it turns out they are just very comfortable as friends and extremely loyal and protective of each other. So in a way, it is a love story (just not a romantic one per se) of two great and dear friends. And some times, that’s an even better love story.

Ironically, the introduction to the story notes the author, May Sinclair “cut through the red tape that ties up the heroes of this story and worked for the Red Cross’s ambulance corps in Belgium” during World War I.

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