Sunday, September 23, 2007

Short Story Sunday

I read three short stories today: "The Gray Man" by Rebecca West, "The Cyprian Cat" by Dorothy Sayers, and "A Haunted House" by Virginia Woolf. I enjoyed them all, however they weren't really scary. Haunting, not scary.

"The Gray Man" by Rebecca West

This story could have been very scary, however the style of narration prevented this. The narrator tells about a vacation where she became very ill and was placed in a nursing home. While there, she becomes sleep deprived and experiences a very disturbing, prophetic dream. I wish that West had upped the creepiness factor, but it was still an interesting story.

I felt obliged to watch the trees outside my window and their behaviour in the sunshine and wind, to note the characteristics of every person who spoke to me, with a quite disagreeable intensity, and I was so fatigued by this constant effort of apprehension that there was no continuity in the working of my brain. Every moment of consciousness was distinct and unrelated to any other. Instead of being a stream my mental life was a string of disparate beads.

"The Cyprian Cat" by Dorothy Sayers

I love Sayers' Lord Whimsey series, but I'd never read any of her short stories. After reading this story, I definitely want to remedy that! In this story, the narrator meets an old friend and his new wife for a little vacation. However, the narrator finds the vacation town absolutely overrun by cats at night; since he detests cats, he decides to buy a pistol to scare them off. But it is odd how the cats only come out at night, and his friend's new wife goes to bed so early and is unresponsive until morning... This was definitely a fun story, but I wish there was a little more background. I think that the idea could have easily been expanded into a novella. Still, makes me look at cats differently!

I tried to distract my mind by looking at the girl. She was worth looking at, too-very slim, and ark with one of those dead-white skins that make you think of magnolia blossom. She had the most astonishing eyes, too-I've never seen eyes quite like them; a very pale brown, almost amber, set wide apart and a little slanting, and they seemed to have a kind of luminosity of their own.

"The Haunted House" by Virginia Woolf

This is a very short story, more of a sketch in fact. It's only two pages long, but it's quite heartwarming. Two ghosts wander around a house, remembering all of the places where they were in love, and wishing blessings on the current occupant. It definitely makes you smile, and since it's Woolf the language and style is beautiful. This was probably my favourite of the three. :)

"Here we slept," she says. And he adds, "Kisses without number." "Waking in the morning-" "Silver between the trees-" "Upstairs-" "In the garden-" "When summer came-" "In winter snowtime-" The doors go shutting far in the distance, gently knocking like the pulse of a heart.


Gentle Reader said...

I need to read more Woolf, and I've been meaning to read both Sayers and West. Maybe I should look into the short stories! Thanks for the reviews!

Dorothy W. said...

I think I'd like the Woolf story too! The others sound good as well.

Andi said...

I'm not familiar with any of these stories (shameful), but I'll definitely be looking them up.

Eloise said...

I didn't realise Sayers wrote anything but detective stories, someone to look out for, although I'm not sure about the anti-cat slant! The Virginia Woolf story sounds lovely.

Eva said...

*note: I distinctly remember already replying to these comments. Weird.*

Gentle Reader, I hadn't even heard of West before. I highly, highly recommend Sayers. Am planning on putting Lord Whimsey on my swoonworthy list for the challenge I'm hosting. :)

Andi, I wasn't familiar with them until they magically appeared in the anthology, lol. I'm really weak in the short story area.

Eloise, while the narrator has an anti-cat slant, he gets his comeuppance, imo.

danielle said...

I've managed to find this anthology (I've been following along reading your posts thinking this would be such a great book!). I will probably not read all the stories, but they have some great selections. I do want to read the Woolf, though.