The Dead

Just before Sunday service
Just before Sunday service (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By James Joyce, 35 pages.

This story took a good 20 pages to gain my interest, but the end was worth it. The story takes place on the night of the Misses Morkan’s annual dance, which is in the wintertime, I think between Christmas and New Year. The Misses Morkans are three elderly ladies who live in Dublin and have lots of friends and family.

Irish hospitality is praised highly in this work. The Irish scenes, social habits, and conversations reminded me of my own family a long long time ago in Texas.

In my last blog entry about James Joyce, I mentioned a couple of rules of storytelling. Here, I am reminded of yet another rule, which is when it snows, somebody dies—or died. Of course, the title foreshadows this as well. All through the story, I’m thinking: ok, who gets it?

I don’t really like this “rule” of storytelling. I adore snow, and I would like to find (or tell) a story that resists this rule.

The story’s tone and pacing change radically after the party is over when everyone is heading home. Our protagonist, Gabriel, who seems like a pretty good guy, but perhaps has a bit of an inferiority complex, is excited to finally be alone with his wife. The writing really picks up here, and for me becomes a real page turner.

Oddly, when I got to the last paragraph I realized I had already read it, the last paragraph, not the story. The paragraph was given as an example in one of my writing books. And indeed, it is a very nice paragraph. This is where writing truly becomes art.

Sad, sad love.

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