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ande
Posts: 442
Registered: ‎04-07-2007
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The Fires: Relationships

Alan Cheuse certainly brings readers a variety of relationships -- in every sense of the word. Which ones rang true for you?
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: The Fires: Relationships

The relationship that resonated the most with me was Gina's and Paul.

They both lived with the sad memory of their dead baby. And both struggled with her paradoxical "retreat from desire, but not from love" that menopause brings. Many marriages do not weather this storm well.

Her menopausal concerns sounded true--on both physical and emotional levels. This is the first instance where I've read a sympathetic recognition of the sense of loss that menopause brings. And an accurate description of what a woman goes through--the emotional ups and downs and the highs and lows of body temperature.

It's amazing that this empathetic viewpoint was written by a male writer. There is a woman's sensibility implicit in the writing that makes Gina's situation so believable. There were no false notes.

Paul comes across as trying hard to understand. Gina's sorrow was palpable. I saw the cremation's fire as cleansing...it burned away some of the excess baggage that Gina carried from her marriage. It was emotionally satisfying for me to see her come out of this tragedy renewed.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Author
AlanCheuse
Posts: 25
Registered: ‎08-14-2007
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Re: The Fires: Relationships

Thanks again for your good reading.
I appreciate the comments no end.
Most writers strive to express the complete spectrum of experience...
and try to find in ourselves those aspects of the experience of others
that will allow us to create someone other than ourselves...
and I find it just as rewarding to read fine female writers writing
about men (Joyce Carol Oates and Francine Prose do this well) as I
do writing about female characters myself.


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Inspired Scribe
IBIS
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Re: The Fires: Relationships

I enjoyed the inter-relationships of the characters built into your novella THE EXORCISM. There were "eureka" moments when relationships fell into place for me. Reading the novella was like peeling the layers of an onion.

You created many stories within stories... for example, I enjoyed discovering with him that the noisy couple in the hotel room next to him were the college dean and her friend Jackie. Although he felt that her voice was familiar, he couldn't place where he had first heard it.

And I loved his wishing to punish them for keeping him awake by dialing their room's phone number to disturb their sleep in the early morning hours.

I wondered who Erna was, why was he writing this story to her? And when she is finally revealed at the end, I understood where his forgiving others came from. And it was emotionally rewarding to read that he finally forgave himself.

The cause of Billie Benjamin's death is revealed late in the story in a round-about way. When it dawned on me that she was a drug addict, and died from heroin, it made Ceely's fiery reaction to her mother's death doubly poignant.

There is a lot of story packed into this short novella. I can see why the length of a story is only as good as the stories themselves.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Author
AlanCheuse
Posts: 25
Registered: ‎08-14-2007
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Re: The Fires: Relationships

Ibis,
The pleasures of those revelations came, I hope, because I made
the story life-like...in that the surprises follow rather than
lead...
Reminds of an ode by the Roman poet Horace, when he says to
the reader "Do not seek to know"...what is coming in the future...
Chance is too overwhelming...we can only handle it if we are prepared
for it, but don't know the details...
What do you think?


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Inspired Scribe
IBIS
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Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: The Fires: Relationships

Tempus fugit.
Horace's ode "seize the day, trusting as little as possible in tomorrow" reminds me of Robert Herrick's "...gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old time is still a-flying"...

It's another view that what comes next is not under our control.

Reading a good story like THE EXORCISM is similar to being led forward by the realism of the characters. The nice surprises are bonus.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Author
AlanCheuse
Posts: 25
Registered: ‎08-14-2007
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Re: The Fires: Relationships

Ibis,
Some day, when you have time, between reading other books, living
your life, playing your music, etc. I hope you'll take a look at
some of my other books and see if you find similar threads...or
something different in each...I'm of course the last person to
see the subtle connections among them...


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Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: The Fires: Relationships

I've enjoyed THE FIRES very much, and, yes, I am planning to read more of your writing.

I ordered WRITER'S WORKSHOP IN A BOOK which you edited. I have read Michael Chabon, Diane Johnson and Amy Tan. I would like to read Robert Stone, which you mentioned in an earlier post.

The excerpt for LIGHT POSSESSED intrigues me. I am a painter and designer professionally, and as an art student in the early 70's, I met Georgia O'Keefe in her New Mexico studio. Needless to say, 30 years later, I am still awestruck by her creative genius.

I haven't read many short stories, but I will try my hand at TENNESEE WALTZ.

I plan to read FALL OUT OF HEAVEN, your autobiography. The excerpt mentioned that you visited Russia with your son to trace your roots. Your sound like one of your own characters, having a Bolshevik pilot father.

One last question: As a visual artist I am curious about process: How would you say that THE FIRES relates to your other writings?

So many books, so little time.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Author
AlanCheuse
Posts: 25
Registered: ‎08-14-2007
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Re: The Fires: Relationships

Ibis,
I can't answer that last question...I wouldn't know how to begin...
So down the road I'd like to hear your reading and learn what you
see...


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