Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28th: Grace Stone Coates
A Month of Short Stories and Their Authors

now reading, somewhat grudgingly: 
Good Wives, better know as  "Part II of Little Women"(apparently), by Louisa May Alcott
now listening: To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov

Four days left to go, still home-stretchin', and I found a Trojan! Well, kind of. An attempted Trojan.

Today's Story: "Wild Plums"
Author: Grace Stone Coates
My Rating:  C+

Grace Stone Coates went to USC! (That, for you uninitiated, is my alma mater, the University of Southern California.) Apparently she didn't get her degree from there, nor from any of the other three colleges she attended, but she did get a teaching certificate (because you could do that in 1900) and taught for a while and then wrote poems and stories and worked for a literary magazine and eventually went a little nuts. She had battled mental illness, but reached a point decades later where she would forget to eat or sometimes wander into the street and stuff. I should mention that I have barely verified any of this--it's just the Wikipedia highlights of Grace Stone Coates, of whom I don't believe I've ever heard a mention before today, but I did bother to click a couple of source links and see most of these facts in a university/library online digital archive that includes her papers, so I think we're good.

Oh, her story?  Right. "Wild Plums." Um, yeah--I guess I found the author's random details a little more compelling. The story was a bit of a bore. Also, it was one of those, "Wait, what's happening here?" I have no idea what is wrong with the Slumps, the family the parents refuse to join in plum-picking. Are they disliked because they are poor? Loud? Non-conformist? Irish? Black? Atheist? It's never really made clear. I had the feeling I was supposed to know, though.

What can I say, 1929? You confuse me. Also, the beginning paragraphs about tasting wild plums and knowing a thing or two about them seem fraught with some risqué innuendo that never quite makes sense, either, but seems to be really about actual plums, despite talking about nether regions and such.

Our narrator seems to be a young girl, maybe a Scout Finch kind of girl, and the big thing that happens to her is that SPOILER ALERT!! she secretly tastes a plum. I think we are deep in the realm of symbolism as this girl has a life awakening about a World Outside of Her Family She's Always Known, but the actual narration and sequence of events/dialogue/thought processes are rather clunky. So between the awkward pacing/feel and the why-on-Earth-don't-we-like-these-people?! confusion, I just don't have a lot of praise for this particular story. Maybe I'll try another one some time, Grace!

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