Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Warm Fuzzies by Chris Adrian

The Warm Fuzzies, a short story about finding finding one self through love in the confusing circus of life.

Peabo waltzes into Mollies heavily confining world, dancing to his own beat, untethered by the family's stern judgements and controlling behavior, sauntering strait into her bed.

Molly suffering her extreme family environment with bouts of an cynical alter ego voice finds a momentary escape with Peabo who mesmerizes her by rocking to his own beat remaing serenely impervious to the insanity around him. The family's music stops but he continues to hear own music, create his own verse, making his own rythms and rules so that when the father karate chops his family into silence Peabo not noticing continues happily to groove on. He is not dependent on them to keep his behavior in check or to be happy. He is free.

By the end of the story Molly loses the cynical alter ego voice through which she unwittingly sought independence from her controlling family because she too has learned to be free of them, making her own dance and music long after her family has stopped playing.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Landlord by Wells Tower

“The Landlord” is a story of astonishingly stubborn passivity in the face of situations which necessitate decision and action. The theme if not common in contemporary literature is relevant as reflection of the complacency that plagues modern culture today.

Lord of the manor, lord of the castle, landlord, alas the narrator is none of these. He is fact tottering towards peasant-hood, having owned 52 properties but which has now precariously dwindled to a mere nineteen by his apparent inaction. These few properties, including the house in which he lives, are also threatened to be seized so that he is forced to envision selling the cottage his parents left him and which he had hoped to retire to.

Enmeshed by his inaction with comically troubled characters that take over his lifeless life as he simply follows the direction they push him sending him to and fro like an empty bag caught in the wind. Berated by his worker, manipulated by his tenants, chastised by his daughter, he accepts everything meekly trudging day by day in the decadent growing squalor which threatens to swallow him while never once rebelling.

From the first paragraph is another character with this passive tendency, a tenant who is waiting for life to knock on his door as he sits around reading motivational books from which he quotes to his landlord while accepting his lot of living in one of the most filthiest apartments. The tenant owes three months rent which instead of paying he has the audacity to tell the landlord that a man like himself should wear tailored shirts. The landlord instead of growing understandably angry at being told what to do with his money by this tenant who owes him thirteen hundred dollars and threatening him with eviction allows the conversation to drift casually.

Todd Toole, his employee casually and systematically bombards him with a flow of rude insults which he accepts as his due. His daughter who has moved back home and apparently has the means to help her father does not but instead obliviously humiliates him as a way of expressing herself. Then there is the tenant, Connie, who does not do her part at keeping her apartment pest free but orders the landlord to fumigate which might not be a necessity had she keep her food in a more sanitary manner. She then brazenly takes this moment to explain to him that she legally does not have to pay rent which she declares is her right covered by the constitution. After claiming this absurd idea she foists food on him which he doesn’t want, doesn’t like, but meekly accepts and just as he is about to escape her presence, she makes a date with him which he feels obliged to go on.

Finally at the end of the story, grasping at some initiative much too late, he arrives at Armando’s apartment to find it entirely empty and stripped of all hardware including fridge and stove with only a small note which the tenant had evidently left to himself. The note explains the key to all this complacent thinking, a self deluded dream that no action is required for success.

“Money comes easily and frequently”

The narrator puts the note in his wallet demonstrating his belief in this illogical idea while bringing our attention to a wallet we fear will soon hold nothing but the note if he does not abandon the foolish notion. ♦

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

An Arranged Marriage by Nell Freudenberger

“An Arranged Marriage” singles out that brief moment in life when children abandon safe hand-holding parental guidance to reach for their freedom to create their own world.

Amina who considers her mother a partner is wrong in this assessment, the mother holds a more powerful influence then a simple partner which implies that decision are shared, which is not the case here where her mother makes the most personal decision for her. Like a child she allows her mother to select her husband by following her strict list of requirements even though she doubts she can find one that will fulfill them all thus risking never marrying and most likely never going to America. Amina then also dutifully submits to her mother a perspective mates shortcomings based on her mothers requirements risking his disqualification. He enjoys Heinkens but "together" mother and daughter decide that he is "still a good man". However if the requirements and the value system being used is that of the mothers, then the judgment that he is “still a good man” is that of her mothers. Her mother is selecting her daughter’s husband.

This control over her daughter is again witnessed by Amin’s desire to put her picture online but patiently succumbing to her mothers refusal even though she knows it is likely to leave her with a smaller pool of perspective husbands to the very few unlikely men who do not care about looks.

Then even as her daughter is in America, her mother attempts to control the wedding while in India via telephone, insisting that she wear a sari though he daughter who has Western taste and who is being married in American to an American would obviously prefer a western styled dress.

Now she is in American and if the marriage was somewhat arranged by her mother’s stipulations of who Amina’s husband she be, Amina now has the freedom to decide what kind of relationship they will have. On just her third night in American deciding to use her newly found freedom she disregards her mothers orders not to have premarital sex and is completely unrepentant the next day when she explains her surprise at waking up next to George and not regretting it.

The phrase in the last paragraph stresses the theme of gaining independence well when Amina says “In Desh, you can make your plans, but they usually do not succeed.” What Amina is describing is in her own country, under her mothers dominance, plans can be precarious because her mother has power to cancel them and Amina must acquiesce. This is also explains why once married she is “dumbfounded” to the point she forgets to kiss her husband during the ceremony by her sudden realization that she does not need her mother and is entirely free to make her own decisions from then on.


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