May 31, 2013

The fantastic is rendered commonplace

Not much time to read the short stories themselves but am loving reading the intros to the stories in Object Lessons, Paris Review's book on the Art of the Short Story.

The image below is from an intro by Daniel Orozco to a short story by Steven Millhauser. The story, called 'Flying Carpets', is about a young boy idling away during his summer vacation. “My father taught me not to believe stories about martians and spaceships,” he says. And then his father brings home the popular toy of the summer — a flying carpet!

To quote Orozco:
the "childhood summer is evoked with sensory details as sharp as they are commonplace and quotidian - the flutter of sheets on clotheslines, the buzz of insects, the gleam of a bottle in the grass. It is sense memory that evokes the strongest emotions in us; that's how we remember. We experience the world through our senses, and in remembering we reach for sense memory in order to somehow feel what was, and is now gone.... Nostalgia is evoked by the precision and accumulation of concrete sensory detail -- in other words, by heeding that writerly chestnut: Show, Don't Tell.
 Flying carpets are the diversion of the summer -- ridden by neighborhood boys, skimming rooftops, drifting over fences from backyard to backyard -- until one day the novelty wears off. Summer wanes, the earth turns, and the toys are put away. The fantastic is rendered commonplace, and the magic of a boy's childhood is recalled with the melancholy of the man who can never experience such again." 

BRILLIANT! Now to read the story maybe! 

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