The Dead, by James Joyce

Book fanatics all over the world have read many of James Joyce's novels, poetry, and articles. This short story only had fifty reviews on Amazon, and I thought maybe it needed a look.

The Dead

Set in Ireland, this story has been published in Dubliners, as part of a short story collection and separately. Mr. Joyce creates a large cast of characters, great dialog- he's really a master at this- and tension that slowly works it's way through one particular character, Gabriel Conroy. 

In, The Dead Mr. Joyce's characters notice everything about each other, simple smiles, quaint frowns, and you sense this as the voyeur, while the conversations go from serious to whimsical with ease. It's easy to place yourself in the dancing room or at the dinner table during the evening party with this cast of piano instructors, uncles who tip the bottle, proper cousins, jealous women, spinster aunts, and maids with harbored tension.
About half-way through, Mr. Conroy makes a speech, that considering the timeline of the story, from early 1900's, could easily be made today. Here's a quote from that speech. "A new generation is growing up in our midst, a generation actuated by new ideas and new principles. It is serious and enthusiastic for these new ideas and its enthusiasm, even when it is mis-directed, is, I believe, in the main sincere."
Later in the speech, Mr. Conroy takes a soft somber tone, but his words are relevant and timely once again. "Our path through life is strewn with many such sad memories: and were we to brood upon them always we could not find the heart to go bravely with our work among the living."

As you read, The Dead, a thought enters your mind concerning the title. The story is very lively, not morbid as the title suggests, But it gets deep into your thoughts and soul as you travel to a hotel with Greta and Gabriel after the party is over. The sexual tension. A passage from the story. "He longed to cry to her from his soul, to crush her body against his, to overmaster her." Gabriel's  ill-timed thoughts, and inaction terrorize his emotions that become fueled by jealousy.
In the end he makes conclusions that I feel would ultimately help him go on with his life. You can decide. For Greta, there's a release of deeply held emotions that get triggered early in the evening at the party by a song. And the song brings back a flood of memories that she remains quiet and subdued, until she recounts the story of her first love.

Stop Back On 2/15/2017 For My Next Post

Classic Book Review Of Slaughter House Five, By Kurt Vonnegut.

The Maid's Version By Daniel Woodrell

Daniel Woodrell a Pen West award winner for his novel,Tomato Red. and the author of Winter's Bone, which was made into a movie that starred Jennifer Lawrence, has done it again.

The Maid's Version

Mr. Woodrell, the man from the Ozarks has written a multi character, historically set, dosed with complex personalities, and a setting as visual as as serene drive down a lazy mountain road.

The Maid's Version: A Novel is told by the grandson of Alma DeGreer Dunahew. Alma, who is a maid for a prominent family in West Table Missouri is privy to much, but also consumed by the loss of her beloved sister, Ruby, and her own speculation. Is she right? You decide? 

 Mr. Woodrell's creation of a grandson to tell this story gives the reader the linkage needed to carry it through a time line that spans half a century. The story starts in 1929, and moves through several characters of various sorts. A preacher who decries the scandalous behavior in the local dance hall. Gypsies, disliked disdained, dishonored in the minds of good towns folk, a citizen with a criminal past, and a Prominent citizen. 

The big question is. Who is responsible? Responsible for a fire so ravenous, so intense, so destructive that it kills forty-two of the locals in a  blast that defies explanation. Of course there's an investigation, but no concrete answers come quickly and hearts and minds burn with anger over the lost loved ones. 

I read this book as hardbound and I've placed it on my bookshelf among my favorites, and books to share with friends. 

Rating for  The Maid's Version: A Novel by Daniel Woodrell is Five Full Sails!  Excellent story line, character development, with descriptive, impressive writing.

Echo Dot on Sale $49.99 

Next Post: Book Review, The Dead, By James Joyce

Post Date, 01/25/2017