Tuesday, November 29, 2011

lunch break reading

I picked up my copy of "Weegee Stories" today to do some lunchtime reading. In this collection of short shorts, Robert Olen Butler captures the spirit of a woman's inner yearning for life and the accompanying struggle perfectly. While there is a lot more going on than just this, I feel this is a valid point to be examined and for me to document for my own purposes in dealing with these same issues.

For readers interested in what I mean, take a peek at "Christine Matheson" The narrator says at the conclusion of the short short, "let me live in my body and just paint" and it's briliant. It makes me want to pick up a brush and start.

Then there's "Dorothy White" where the narrator is enraptured with strong feelings and says "I am inside my body and outside my body" and while I'm not sure I see this sentiment in the photo itself, the sentiment still resonates from the story. It's as if she is saying, it's okay for me to scream every once in a while. It's okay if that's what it takes to be heard, to be seen, to be acknowledged. She is saying "look at me" but what she wants us to see is that she is engaging in the scream. The sound and tone and pitch and length of it don't matter. What matters is that she's done it.

In "Mary Simmons" the narrator starts "make me a pallet on your floor" and goes on to express her desire for this man she's set her sights on and it's sensual and stated in a way that a woman understands, in a way she thinks. It, like "Christine Matheson" encapsulates a sort of desperation that is subtle and almost always there in the way a woman needs.

This is shown perhaps best in the short short "Louise Brecht" which is a companion to the "David Brecht" one. Read by itself, "Louise Brecht" is heartbreaking...with lines like "weary I drift, my eyes puffy from crying, and I try to make out the trees in the dark and he used to kiss me under those trees", the reader is drawn inside the aching spirit of the narrator and all because she is mourning over the loss of a kiss or of the man who would kiss her that way. But...read alongside the "David Brecht" short, the image takes on a much darker and deeper portrayal of the misunderstandings that make women fight for their own inner lives even more. His ends with "I wish to hell I knew what this was all about" while hers ends with "you come home and you don't give me a kiss, you don't even say a word" This is also one where the photo that accompanies the story is perfect and memorable and in my opinion, the best of the collection.

Weegee Stories can be purchased online at http://www.narrativemagazine.com/store/book/weegee-stories

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