“The Pearl” is a novella by John Steinbeck, first published hot on the heels of the second world war. The story is a re-visioning of a Mexican folktale, sometimes called a parable. This story is widely studied in American high schools so much has been posted elsewhere about symbolism and themes. My focus is on the structure and storytelling techniques, from a writer’s point of view. Continue reading “The Pearl by John Steinbeck”
“Cortes Island” is a short story by Alice Munro, included in the 2013 collection The Love Of A Good Woman, which won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Like another story in this collection, “Jakarta”, the title of this story is set in a place away from where the action takes place. Writers often say that the characters who exist off the page are as important as the character who exist on the page (engaged in the action). The same is true of places, especially for a writer like Alice Munro. This is yet another way in which a setting can be considered a character.
In this case, Cortes Island is the place where the first person narrator’s landlady used to live as a young woman. The real Cortes Island lies off the coast of British Columbia. In 2016 it had only 1,035 permanent residents. Its school has since been closed. You get there by plane or ferry.
“Jakarta” is a short story by Alice Munro, the second in the Nobel Prize winning collection The Love Of A Good Woman. At first it baffles me why this story is called Jakarta as it is not set in Indonesia. Eventually we find out that one of the characters has previously died in Jakarta of a tropical bug. Or has he?
When storytellers focus on the hallways and passages of a building, look for metaphor. Take note of the width of the passageway: Narrow passages might represent the will to escape. Broad passages represent freedom and space. Continue reading “Passages, Hallways and Corridors”