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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Deal Me In 2015: Week 12: “Permanent Wave”

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I’m having to play serious catch up after all the crazy traveling these last two months so get ready! For week 12, I drew the ten of hearts which leads me back to Katey Schultz’s Flashes of War and her story “Permanent Wave”. 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 story is barely even a page so a nice ease back into all the short story reading I’m about to do and a nice break from the tomes I’ve been reading (posts are coming on those also :)). “Permanent Wave” tells the story of Daniel who lost his right arm in Iraq. We are introduced to Daniel as he’s getting ready to throw the first pitch at a Mariner’s game. The story is from Daniel’s point of view and everything he thinks leading up to the pitch. Schultz does a good job of packing in a bit of emotion into such a short piece. I found I didn’t need the story of everything else that Daniel went through – this was just enough to make me really think about what he was feeling at the time. I think the word “poignant” would definitely apply to this story.

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Deal Me In 2015: Week 13: “Days of Orphans and Strangers”

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Week 13 sees me draw the six of spades and now I’m heading back to Tamas Dobozy’s Siege 13 and “Days of Orphans and Strangers”. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.

I’m rather glad we’re getting most of the stories from this book out of the way early. While they’ve been enjoyable, they aren’t some of my favorite stories I’ve read. The one story I really liked out of these was “The Ghosts of Budapest and Toronto” which told the story of Maria and Laszlo. You can read my post about that story in my week 11 post.

“Days of Orphans and Strangers” takes up the story again of Maria and Laszlo but Dobozy now adds a twist: according to a new character, adopted Jeno, what if the original story was fake? What if Laszlo wasn’t really who he says he is and Maria really wasn’t Laszlo’s wife, but his mother? This nearly broke me until I got to the end of the story.

“Days” talks about Jeno’s obsession with proving Laszlo’s story false. Laszlo’s niece, Helena plays interloper trying to mend fences with Laszlo and Jeno and eventually she suggests a camping trip like they used to do in years past. During the trip, Jeno explains why he thinks or needs Laszlo’s story to be different – because he needs to desperately believe that someone like an older brother has been looking out for him and continues to do so. If Maria was Laszlo’s mother and not his wife, then there was an opening for Maria to be Jeno’s mother also. The way the trip and the story ends leaves the reader a bit of an option as to what they choose to believe: the original story, this new version of Laszlo and Maria, or some combination of the two. And that was that out I was looking for to make peace with the original story.  

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Memorial Day 2015

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Memorial Day and Veterans Day are two different holidays in who they honor. Veterans Day honors all veterans and Memorial Day honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Started immediately after the Civil War, Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day as Civil War veterans wished to decorate all the graves of their fallen comrades. They picked May to do this as it was their wish to have all the graves in bloom with flowers across the country. After World War I, the day changed to Memorial Day, the day in which we honor all the fallen military service members.

I found a YouTube video that summarizes this day pretty well – you can click here to view it.

Thank you to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to their families and friends who live with that sacrifice day in and day out.

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Deal Me In 2015: Week 11: “The Ghosts of Budapest and Toronto”

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Week 11 and I draw the queen of spades and I’m back to Tamas Dobozy’s Siege 13. This time the story is “The Ghosts of Budapest and Toronto”. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.

“Ghosts”, a quick read at 22 pages or so, is about Maria, who is abducted from her husband, Laszlo, and small son, Krisztian, by Russian soldiers. She’s assaulted and escapes during the abduction and is rescued by a Hungarian soldier named Bela.

Laszlo looks for Maria and finally, out of desperation when he finally realizes he may never find her, moves with Krisztian to Toronto. Eventually, Laszlo’s brother and sisters and their families follow him to Toronto. Dobozy tells two stories: one of Laszlo’s family and the ghost of Maria that haunts them in Canada. The second of the ghosts of Lazlo’s family that haunt Maria in Hungary.

The two stories start out distinctly separate and become more intertwined as the short story goes on to such an extent that by the time the reader gets to the end, it is indiscernible as to who the ghosts really are or whose life we’ve been following. It seems like this is one of those stories where the reader chooses what to believe and the conclusion. I know what I choose to believe of the story. Has anyone else read this? What were your thoughts and conclusions?

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