– Notes and Quotes –
American Short Story 2
Mrs. Kunkel, 8 kids, Rhea & Rhoda Kunkel, twins, youngest, stole $6 from granny.
The names in order, Rhea always first. Dead, 7th grade, twin coffins, buried First Methodist.
“heat sometimes all night long”
The thermometer on the First Midland Bank read 98 degrees Fahrenheit at noon.
Mother would hug her and pray
“there was a girl she loved as her daughter that was me and loved more than that girl deserved.”
Mr. Kunkel, construction worker, in police custody for threatening to kill the Whipples, Roger, for killing the twins. Roger didn’t remember, bathing in the middle of the day. Roger, “hung like a horse,” says his sister. The twins circled him with their bikes. Rhea, thirsty, Roger got ice. Something to show the girls, under Roger’s bed, show them one at a time, can’t tell the twins apart. Rhea went first as always.
Roger dead by 31.
Mrs. Whipple and Iris were home, claiming to only hear children playing in the yard.
Rhoda pretended to leave, angry at her sister (wished her dead) for leaving her, keeping her waiting, and stealing the money from their grandmother. Rhoda entered the house, called for Rhea, encountered Roger flushed and sweating (crime of passion, “heat” of the moment, unable to remember).
Mrs. Whipple became a shut-in, died of cancer before Roger’s death.
The Whipples had called the police, the bodies hidden in the ice house.
The narrator, married, has an affair for 2-3 years, “heat”, passion, leaving her unable to remember or recognize who she was.
“The things people do,” in the heat of the moment, lie, cheat, steal, tease, rape, murder, and every action with a reaction, every cause with an effect.
Perhaps a transposition occurs between the narrator and her adult affair behind the ice house with the affair between the Kunkel twins and Roger.
John Edgar Wideman (1941-present), Fever (1989)
Philadelphia – irony
equality (to disease)
no freedom to blacks
Paragraph breaks – shift in time/place/voice
classic short story
the trembling cup of courage
racial identity – “sociology is not art”
Baldwin – criticized for not being a voice in civil rights (writes)
“It” – unspeakable problem, Sonny’s situation, drug raid
math/music – languages
music – whistle – jukebox – poetic devices
musicians – reputations as drug users
we all live in private space
compare with Hemingway’s “A Clean Well Lighted Placed”
making misery tolerable
Bobbie Ann Mason (1940-present), Big Bertha Stories (1988)
what America did to Vietnam
what Vietnam did to America
Dirty Realism – British critics
(Jayne Ann Phillips, Tobias Wolff)
American realists: Twain, James, Howells, Wharton
caves – interactions
plot vs. character
reaction against 60s & 70s
social idealism, war, protest
war effects everyone
focus on pop culture
minimalist – iceberg effect
less is more, or can be
characters – rootless wanderers
(Peter Rugg, Wandering Jew, homeless)
Sandra Cisneros (1954-present), What Sally Said (1989)
condensation of language
absurd humor – marshmallow salesman
Prison – flowers/floor, cake/ceiling