Monday, March 27, 2006

Let the LitMag Wave Begin

The most recent One Story contains "Good Luck" by Kate Walbert (click here for an interview). Walbert’s novel, Our Kind, readers may recall, was nominated in 2004 for a National Book Award, the least obscure of the finalists. This story is intriguing. It is told from the point of view of Bill (in a voice I didn't find convincingly male, I have to say), a World War II veteran who marries Evelyn; now, after 50 years of marriage, Evelyn is leaving him and has chosen the moment of their voyage to Patagonia to tell him.

This is one of those stories that is illuminated by examining what isn’t there. Evelyn is leaving Bill, but we don’t really know why. We know they had children, but all we know of their marriage is that the honeymoon began awkwardly, and that she wasn’t sure that marrying him was what she wanted. We know that Bill was injured as a prisoner of war, but we don’t really know how that affected him, other than that his teeth were ruined.

Here’s an excerpt from the middle of the story:
“He would not call this place a camp, or a prison, or even a village; it is a collection of cement barracks, manmade caves on an island where the caves have been mined for the enemy. Within the concrete walls are empty bamboo cages—they’ve been expecting him—and though he does not fit in the cage he is put in the cage for good luck. This is what his captor tell him: good luck, they say, this their English. Good luck.”
For another perspective on the story, see what Myfanwy Collins has to say.

Next in the Wave: Golden Handcuffs Review


Mary Akers said...

I also didn't find it convincingly male. I read and enjoyed, but didn't feel transported or "convinced."

katrina said...

That's interesting. I often write in the male pov--I hope people don't feel the same way after reading mine. I'll read the story tonight to see for myself.

Myfanwy Collins said...

Hi Cliff, thanks for the link and thanks also for your excellent commentary on the journals you've been reading. I find it invaluable information.

Mary Akers said...

I've always believed your protagonists are male, Kat, so I think it was just something about her particular presentation in this one. The way he "looks at the world and ruminates" didn't convince me, somehow. It wasn't a huge thing, just a couple of places where I thought, "Nah."