Barlow and the World’s Youngest Marine Biologist

April 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Unfinished short story, feedback welcomed!

Barlow and the World’s Youngest Marine Biologist

Barlow had nothing left to live for.  He flicked Marlboro ash into the choppy gray waves below, suffering the cold rocks with an air of martyrdom.

From his seat on the stone peninsula, the line dividing sky and sea was invisible.  At the sharpest rock’s edge, a seagull craned its neck at him.  Barlow scowled.  He flicked the cigarette butt over the edge, where it floated in the November surf.

“What was the point of my life?” he asked.

He imagined how everyone’s faces would look when his body washed ashore.  If there was any poetic justice left in this world, Emily would find him first.  Would she faint?  Sob hysterically, clutching his dear, drowned face to her feverish chest?  Probably.  Satisfaction bloomed in his belly like good wine, real wine, not that cheap shit his father’s store sold.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Lost Faith: Occult Themes in Le Fanu’s “Green Tea”

April 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

(Written for The Gothic Imagination at the University of Pittsburgh, 2012)

The story “Green Tea” by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu explores themes of curiosity, anxiety, and the questioning of one’s faith during the clash between Christian teachings and more esoteric Pagan doctrines.  This struggle is embodied by Reverend Jennings, whose interest in the occult and subsequent fear and self-doubt manifest as a demonic entity which eventually causes his death.  Although fundamentally a student of the occult, Reverend Jennings lacks both the mental fortitude and removed perspective of an objective scholar required to study things of this nature.  He opens a door in his mind which cannot be closed and finds beyond it a physical materialization of his deepest anxieties which ultimately leads to his doom.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Manifesto on Point of View

April 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

(Written as final composition for Mastering Point of View class at University of Pittsburgh, 2011)

MANIFESTO ON POINT OF VIEW

  1. The retrospective narrator reveals and withholds information to create a sense of emotional completeness

The retrospective narrator tells a story with the knowledge and reliable commentary of having already experienced the events in the past.  This gives the story an amount of distance and reflection that wouldn’t be possible if it were happening in the present moment.  Booth tells us that “The most obvious task for a commentator is to tell the reader about facts that he could not easily learn otherwise” (169), and the retrospective narrator plays a specific role with his or her commentary.  Because the narrator already knows the outcome of the story at the very beginning, the commentary he or she chooses to provide us with is carefully crafted with the entire story in mind.  In this sense, the retrospective narrator is almost akin to an omniscient narrator, because the retrospective narrator has the ability to tell everything at once but reveals information at a particular pace.  This is usually done to achieve a certain emotional or evocative consequence for the reader at the outcome of the story.  A prime example of this technique (and my favorite retrospectively narrated story) is Michael Cunningham’s “White Angel”.  It’s told from the perspective of a grown man looking back on his childhood relationship with his brother Carlton, and perfectly paced to achieve the maximum emotional response from the reader.  He tells it in first person present tense, but with the commentary of someone much older and wiser.  For instance, “I was, thanks to Carlton, the most criminally advanced nine year old in my fourth grade class.  I was going places.  I made no move without his counsel.  « Read the rest of this entry »