Reading Response #11

Select one of the stories assigned this week, and post a 500-word response below on what you saw as the story’s strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to also make a comment on a classmate's response for full credit.

23 thoughts on “Reading Response #11

  1. Katherine Whelchel

    “Tales from the Mekong Delta” by Kate Braverman was very disturbing. As I read, I was filled with an unsettled and disgusted feeling. Honestly, I skipped over certain parts. I read the introduction of Kate Braverman, which led me to believe that she likes to write disturbing pieces of literature. Putting aside the storyline, I did analyze her writing techniques and the way she used sentence structures to convey her message. She had the man in the story, Lenny, talk in brisk startling tones. His words were always startling, and the choppy way she made him speak added to this startling vibe.

    Kate Braverman also conveyed how the woman was feeling towards Lenny at first by his tone. I understood the sudden uncomfortableness that she felt because Lenny’s words and way of speaking made me feel uncomfortable as well. I could easily understand her emotions through the structuring of their conversations. I also really liked the line “you look but don’t see. I look and see”. Lenny had obviously been in the war and was messed up from it (and probably other things). Braverman clearly portrayed how Lenny’s past experiences taught him how to actually ‘see’ the world. As he made contact with the woman, she began to ‘see’ the world as well.

    The descriptions of China and other places that the woman in the story thought of, I did not quite understand; however, I did not re-read to try and understand either. I feel that there is a meaning behind this piece. The picture of a child who was not aware that leaving or moving was even an option, however, was a great way of describing the woman in the story. The whole time reading the story, all I could think was “this dude is bad news, you need to run girl”, but maybe Braveman was trying to show how people can be sucked into relationships like these when they feel low, alone, and want distractions. There was an unhealthy attraction to the dark in this piece; a truly disturbing picture.

    1. Aundrea Pierce


      Both pieces this week gave me a disturbing feeling. In Braverman’s, “Tales from Mekong Delta” I found myself getting more frustrated with the woman! She appeared to be sober and on the road to recovery, then all of the sudden this ill man (she clearly knew he was sick) comes in, and she goes with him! The woman made minor attempts to avoid him, but she could have done a heck of a lot more, which makes me think she liked or wanted something from him. Lenny’s dialogue drove me nuts! It makes sense Braverman choose this dialogue for him because he has PTSD and is tweaked out. Braverman left me with a lot of unanswered questions; I wanted to know more about both of the character’s background.

    2. Corbin Knapp

      Hi Katherine.
      I agree that Tall Tales From The Mekong Delta was a truly disturbing piece, and I can’t help but wonder what this woman was thinking! Overall I thought this week’s stories were completely depressing and very dark, and I hope that next week’s stories will be better.

  2. Andrew Lange


    I also found this “Lenny” character extremely disturbing myself, and at times was also frankly almost skimming over some parts, cringing at the actions and persona of this man. As the story begins, I frankly had the impression he was a sexual predator for one thing, but as the story develops and we are given more information it becomes abundantly apparent that this man also has other issues, such as being a drug runner (this is first foreshadowed by how someone who just got out of prison has a Ferrari, for instance).

    I envisioned the Chinese references as a bit of a distraction, a rapid switching back and forth of perspectives, and the “blue” references as a flashback to the feelings of intoxication or being on a drug-induced “high” (although I have never experienced either of these myself, being completely clean, so I can only guess).

  3. Andrew Lange

    I enjoyed the second half of “Building Fiction”. I particularly enjoyed some of the author’s analogies and descriptions of how a story is best constructed. One of the things I enjoyed most was how the author continued with some of her previous analogies, including the ever-popular “Alarm clock” beginning to many short, fictitious stories. Another such device which is, quite literally, built upon is the “house-builder” analogy when discussing the eventual completion and terminus and (ideally, but not always) resolution of a story. One such example the author cites is, in the moment of disappointment when reading the dreaded letter of rejection from one’s editor, comparing it to how a potential homebuyer might refuse to purchase a new home if the roof had yet to be shingled, or at least refuse to accept it as “finished”.

    A bit more on letters of rejection from one’s editor. The author goes into some detail on this, especially when discussing how irritating it can be to seemingly endlessly revise one’s piece only to have it repeatedly kicked back; the author expresses a slight amount of irritation at the idea of always having the feedback “The end doesn’t work very well”. While this is understandable, hence the analogy of a potential homebuyer refusing to go under contract on a home where the roof has never been shingled, it is understandable how this is a classic problem for many writers.

    Another aspect the author doesn’t mention but which I myself can very much relate to is when an editor or other representative thereof accepts one’s work on first submission it is generally not without substantial revision. I myself actually was once asked to write for a particular magazine, and typed out a draft one night in none other than PM inbox of the online forum connecting us enthusiasts and organization members. After deleting and retyping umpteen times I finally clicked ‘Send’, only to get a reply that the recipient absolutely loved it, and even wanted to know how several anecdotes in the piece I wrote ended later for me personally. Although this sort of thing is rare, I feel like the author of “Building Fiction” makes the process of writing for any kind of publication or periodical or other circulated work sound worse and more arduous than it actually is (Mind you, my particular experience may be particularly good, especially since I was well known already).

    I myself have often found that toward the end of any piece I write I often abruptly close, either running out of ideas, room, or the actual anecdote I was relating simply ending. I, for one, always found beginnings more interesting. To use an example akin to one this author would use, one piece I wrote for this class, the first “flash essay”, relates an actual anecdote, literally starting with ‘I’m riding shotgun down the four-lane Richardson Highway on a forty-degree, drizzly, mid-September day, shaking, shimmying, bucking down the frost-heaved, sun-baked rightmost lane, shouting over the hiss of the air wipers, the wind noise, the old 14 liter Cummins diesel of a fellow enthusiast’s 1983 American General ex-national-guard 5 ton 6×6.’ The ending, however, is rather abrupt, merely closing when, following lunch, I am dropped off at a shopping center in North Pole, Alaska, and walk to a bus stop; the entire piece literally just describes a particular conversation during a particular drive, though as the reader reads on things become more clear as to why I wrote the piece in the first place.

  4. Aundrea Pierce

    After reading Dorothy Allison’s “River of Names,” I feel like I drank a dose of corrupted, demented medicine. Even though the entire story tugged my heartstrings, I kept having to read it to find out what happened in the end. The constant drama from the main character’s memory made is easy for me to stay engaged while reading. I couldn’t tell if the girl’s stories were real or not, I think that was to be left as a mystery for the reader. “You’ve got such a fascination with violence. You’ve got so many terrible stories.” (Wolff, pg.5) This made me wonder, is this just all one big lie? Did she experience abuse that made her fascinated with violence? She surely had to experience something traumatizing to be able to tell such unique, realistic events of abuse. At the conclusion of the story on page 12, she states, “Yeah,” I tell her. But I lie.” This makes me feel even more she’s just making up all of these stories out of some internal rage she’s bottled up.

    Allison did a good job swinging from event to event through the main characters recollections. She describes some horrific events such as the one she used to capture the reader’s attention in the opening. I appreciate her leaving out some detail because I had a hard time just imagining the scenes of horror that supposedly occurred. The story left me wanting to know more about the background of the main character, first starting off with what the truth is. Could the reason she’s a lesbian be due to her past abuse? I know one thing for sure that the character experienced a troubling childhood. I’m just not sure how much or if any of what she is telling her lover, Jesse, was true or not. I do find the author Allison brave and courageous to have written such a disturbing narrative. She hits people at their weakest spots having the whole theme around innocent young children being tormented and hurt. She starts to give all of the horrible events a sort of routine feel for the reader, almost like the kids were all just a bunch of numbers with no purpose (a “River of Names”). Writers take risks, and Allison did just that with this short story. Sometimes when I’m writing, I find myself holding back horrible details, in fear people will judge my mentality.

    Another thing I was left wanting to know more about was the time and location the story of events took place. I know it’s a farm on South Carolina, but were they living on a farm in the middle of nowhere!? Was there any civilization nearby? Allison writes descriptions that make me feel like this all took place in the past with the bridge caving in, coca-cola, and mentioning always being stocked on codeine. I’m guessing it was set in the 60’s/70’s. One thing is for sure, Allison did a successful job grabbing the readers interest and gaining a reaction out of us; even though it was a repulsive sad one for me.

    1. Michelle Cordova

      I completely agree with your thoughts on “River of Names” by Dorothy Allison. I was left with the many of the same feelings and questions, especially about everything being a big lie. She does such a great job at telling these stories, making it all seem real, which makes you wonder if she did experience some form of torture in her childhood that would enable her to write with such passion about a sickening topic. Great post!

    2. Ben Knapp

      I agree with you that the story was well written, but totally awful. It’s kind of cruel how the writer made such believable characters, and them put them in such a horrific environment. It makes me feel that the writer abused her power!

  5. Caitlyn Williams

    Dorothy Allison’s “A River of Names” was an interesting read. A hard read, but it was interesting. I’ve never read a short story quite like this. The way the author included the dark truths of the main characters life, all while being in the present with her lover Jesse. This story was quite mysterious, and I really liked the way the author wrote it about a real issue; the issue being generational violence.

    In the beginning of the story when Jesse asks how her grandma smelled, the main character lies and says she smelled of lavender. She lied to make her life seem like a fairytale. (The way Jesse lived). After lying, she includes that her grandma in fact smelled like sour sweat and snuff. I felt like the main character had a strong feeling of longing to tell her lover the truth, but the innocence of Jesse made her keep her wall high. Her plot was a strength because it was mysterious, and it kept the reader engaged.

    She referred to herself as a survivor, and to me, this indicated that she was a survivor of trauma. Terrible trauma that affected her and her relatives deeply. This story was overall a disturbing eye- opener. It has strengths and weaknesses. One weakness being that it’s a bit too dark for some readers to digest. Although the material in this short story was definitely dark, it had some real perspective. Lying to a lover about one’s past life experience is a real issue. Wearing a “mask” is also a struggle numerous people face everyday.

    Another strength was her use of italics to differentiate her thoughts and memories. The author’s use of italics makes the content even more memorable. It shows that the words had an impact on her. For example, on page 9 Allison writes, “You’re growing up, we told each other.” To me, this emphasises how it was an excuse for the abuse, and neglect. This story really saddened me, but through all of it she was the one. She felt the pressure to become something, little did we know, she’s already bloomed. Through the horrific storm that was her life, she bloomed.
    Although this story was disturbing, it was moving as well. It showed real emotion, and that’s how one connects with the readers.

    I really admire the authors that have the courage to write about the dark things that do happen in life. Ultimately, life isn’t a fairytale, and the author wrote this story based upon that. I liked the honesty, and the darkness of this short story. It may have been hard for her to write, or she may have just wrote it out simply. We, as readers may never know. “A River of Names” did have it’s strengths and weaknesses, but I believe it had more strengths than weaknesses.

  6. Michelle Cordova

    I absolutely love Dorothy Allison’s collection “Trash,” but not in the sense that I loved all of what she had to say; It’s heartbreaking and disturbing. There are so many gut wrenching, sickening, and dark ghosts in the main character’s past, but she uses them to create this character that the reader can’t help but feel bad for. Years ago, I watched the film “Bastard Out of Carolina,” so I already had an idea of what Allison’s writing was like, and that movie is just as troublesome as her other stories.

    Dorothy Allison starts “Trash” out with an Introduction that explains who the main character is and where she comes from- from a poorer than poor family out of South Carolina, where the men are drunks and the women have numerous babies out of wedlock. From the very beginning, she is honest with the reader, even if her story is less than relatable and often times difficult to read. As she goes on, she explains the characters desire to break the mold as she recalls her terrible childhood and her decision to forgive those who wronged her.

    “River of Names” is one of my favorite short stories within this collection. I like that she chose to write this one in third person, explaining the events of her past to her partner, Jesse, but also incorporating her current life situation of not being able to have children due to the amount of sexual assault she endured as a child. She claims to not want children anyways, as if she fears she would be a bad parent, unable to protect her child from harm- Like the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Like the rest of her work, this piece is also dark and sad, but it pulls you in as she talks about her numerous cousins, stepfather, aunts, and uncles, and the way many of them died some pretty awful deaths, or were also raped and beaten. “River of Names” just really made my heart ache for this little girl, now an adult, as you can feel her pain through her words. As the narrator and Jesse swap stories about their childhoods, it was clear that Jesse’s memories made the narrator long for a happiness that was unachievable. The narrator most definitely still carries a lot of sorrow and anger, which is completely understandable.

    With a story line like the one Dorothy Allison uses, it is difficult to find anything to critique. Her writing is raw and honest, as depressing as it is. I enjoy reading stories like this, though, that’s out of the norm, whether its fact or fiction. Allison has a way with telling stories that make everything seem so real, which helps the reader connect with the characters on some level.

    1. Jessica Honebein

      Michelle! I completely agree with you that raw and honest writing is very difficult to critique. I also found this piece very interesting and ended up really liking it as well. I definitely think that reading certain writing styles are not for everyone, however even though this one is disturbing I like the realness of it as well. I think that just like in Bravermans story, being able to read and feel a connection and true meaning in the story always helps the reader stay interested.

  7. Jessica Honebein

    The story “Tall Tales from Mekong Delta” by Kate Braverman was very strange, interesting, and complex. The two main characters were the focus of the story, a unnamed women and Lenny. The women has a distinct and vulnerable personality. She once suffered from both drug and alcohol abuse and as Lenny says in the story she is now rich and living with her daughter. Lenny on the other hand has a very different personality he almost reminds me of a stalker. He seems to put off a very dominant aroma, persistently following the women around wherever she goes. The narrator is a little voice in the story, but describes how the women is feeling and what she is thinking as well as the setting of the story.

    I think that some of the strengths in the story rely on the characters that she decided to highlight. I think that she used the narrator to help with the storyline and I do not feel that it inhibits what she is trying to get the reader to see. The other thing that I feel Braverman did well in the story was emphasizing symbols. The symbol that really stood out to me was the color blue, I think she did a very good job making it show repeatedly. I think that she emphasized this so much because it helps to represent the sadness and depression. I think that she may have been expressing a blue persona from Lenny because he is the “stalker” that makes her fall back into her old habits. The blue is also shown through the weakness, depression, and vulnerability that the women feels throughout the story. Overall I think that this symbol of blue embodies the feelings of someone that has overcome a drug/ alcohol problem and does not have a super strong support system. She struggles daily with the blue or Lenny clinging to her, and constantly lurking over her.

    Bravermans writing is definitely dark and you have to have an open mind when reading it. I did read this piece a couple times and I still feel like I could go back and read it again and gain something new from it. I think that every writer has the freedom to express their piece in their own way, and there is not necessarily anything wrong with that. Depending on the writing style, and the reader, it can be hard to get through a piece with full understanding. However, I think that the main points that Braverman wanted to express were highlighted through the characters in the story. The only thing that I would like to have seen maybe a little different was the descriptions of outlets that the women used to escape. I think that it would have explained a little more on why she felt certain ways and how imagining helps her escape or become distracted.

    Overall I think that the story had a powerful background that was tough to read about. I like how it is true on explaining the feelings of someone’s vulnerability after conquering such a severe drug and alcohol case.

    1. Caitlyn Williams


      I completely agree with you. Although the story was kinda sick and twisted, It showed the real struggle of staying clean. The authors symbolism of “blue” was really a key factor in tying the story together, I thought. I also liked how you included that every writer has the freedom to express their piece in their own way. That’s an important thin to remember while writing!

    2. Cassidy Kramer

      Hello Jessica,
      I didn’t get why she kept bringing up the color blue, and what you said makes perfect sense. I also feel like I can go back and read it over and over again catching what I missed the first few times I read it. Thanks for your insight!

  8. Corbin Knapp

    I found the short stories this week to be extremely dark, and I did not enjoy reading them in the slightest. I had a hard time choosing between this week’s readings because both of them were twisted and made me rather depressed. The story I chose is Tall Tales From The Mekong Delta by Kate Braverman. This story is not as dark as the other one, but I still found it rather twisted and disturbing.

    The story begins by describing the main character who has been sober for five months and is just leaving the gym were she was working out. When I first read these sentences I thought that the story would be about a woman who had been through some rough times, but who was finally recovering. Instead the story almost immediately takes a darker turn. A short pale man named Lenny, with dirty hair comes up to her and asks her name. By the description of the author of his eyes (squinting even though it wasn’t that sunny) I could hazard a guess that Lenny was a drug addict.

    In the following sentences the author backs up my assumption by writing that the man asked her if she did drugs and she tells him that she used to but that she doesn’t do them anymore. Lenny tells her that he does cocaine as well, and asks if she wants to go out for coffee. She refuses him and leaves with Lenny telling her that he will give her the ride of her life. The next day Lenny is waiting for her at the place where she usually has a church meeting with some roses. She wonders why he knew that she would be there, and he flatters her. She is starting to get freaked out now, and she starts to walk away. Lenny follows her and starts to get mad, she starts talking to him again to avoid making him upset and he tells her that he knows she has to pick up her daughter. Revealing that he has been following her.

    The rest of the story is increasingly disturbing, and Lenny continues to make her slide back into the dark life that she had before she got sober. Each time she sees him she continues to do what Lenny asks of her. Eventually I assume she gets hooked back on cocaine because her thoughts become increasingly more vague and confused as the story goes on. This can actively be seen in the author’s writing of her thoughts. There is one part where she stops seeing him for a week and goes to a different church so she can avoid Lenny, but one night he finds her again and is waiting for her when she leaves the building. She tries to ignore him, but she asks her if she has a boyfriend. She asks what it means to him and he says that he wants to date her and if she had a boyfriend he’d have to hurt him. He then shows her some knives that he had been hiding in his clothing.

    The story goes downhill from there, and by the end of it she is hooked back on drugs and does whatever Lenny tells her to do. I found this to be a sick and twisted piece, and I think that she could have done things differently and not have slid back into her old life. I did not enjoy this week’s short stories, but Tall Tales From Mekong Delta was well written, and the descriptions of the people made the whole story very real .

    Works Cited
    Braverman, Kate. “Tall Tales From The Mekong Delta.” The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 89-107.

  9. Ben Knapp

    I found the short story “River of Names” by Dorothy Alliston to be very disturbing. The story itself was very well written, but that didn’t make the story any more enjoyable for me to read. If anything, the author’s skill at writing made the story even more unenjoyable by making the more disturbing parts much more vivid.

    The story mostly consists of the narrator remembering the horrors of his youth. It is probable that the narrator is still recovering, and the only thing that kept him from ending up in jail, or worse, was how he was separated from his siblings by a couple years, so he was always apart from them. Even at this early point the story has a dark, gloomy feel.

    The story quickly elevates from merely dark to truly disturbing. The narrator describes one horrifying aspect of his childhood after another, and the reader feels himself being sapped by the gloomy story. After reading this story, I genuinely felt ill.

    The author has a knack for making something seem like it can’t get any worse, and then making it twice as bad. At one point, the narrator remembers how his aunt had been driving in her car with all her children, including her new baby, when the bridge had given out and her car had fallen into a river. Then, while the reader is still recovering from this sudden tragedy, the story takes another twist. His Aunt and most of her children had escaped, except for one of her daughters and her newborn. At this point, I had given up all hope of enjoying this story, and just started focusing as getting it over with as soon as possible.

    Although the author does a good job of making the characters feel real, this is not what the reader actually wants in this kind of story. It is hard not to feel for the people in the story, even though it would be much less painful to just read the story and be done with it. This feels almost cruel on the author’s part, and, given the choice, I do not think I would read something by this author again.

    Despite my best efforts to detach myself from it, the story stayed in my head after I read it. With most stories, this would be a good thing. However, this story was so dark; I wanted to forget it as soon as I finished it. The disturbing images presented by this story stayed with me for far longer than I would have liked.

    Overall, my general impression of the story was bad. I am not sure what compelled the author to write such a dark and disturbing piece, but I do know that it is not a style of writing that I would ever like to adopt. I would not recommend his story to anyone, and I hope to never read something like this again. As I said before, I did not enjoy reading this piece.

    Works Cited

    Dorothy, Allison. “River of Names.” The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 3-12.

    1. Monica Gallagher

      It was super informative to read your thoughts on this story. Just out of curiosity do you like scary movies? I assume no, but I figured I wouldn’t assume and was curious on your take on them. I have always weirdly enjoyed stories like this and movies that highlight on really abnormal and sort of creepy stuff. I think it’s actually kind of a curse and probably sort of a coping mechanism, oddly enough. I’m not sure if that’s what the author was feeling in writing something like this or if it has nothing to do with her situation at all and that is just the subject that she focused on, based on someone else’s life or stories that she’s heard. I’m not sure, I just know for me that it sort of helps in a way to watch or read things like this sometimes. It sort of makes stuff that I went through seem more normal or not as bad, considering what all is going on in the story or movie. I think it’s also why I’m so interested in people and their minds, which is why I’m a psych major. I’m just really curious, even with the really disturbing stuff, like why does this person think that way or do a, b, or c. So my perspective compared with yours is quite different, so was really interesting to hear such an opposite view point. Did you read the other story? It was also sort of creepy, so maybe skip it 🙂

  10. Monica Gallagher

    Both short stories that I read this week were very haunting in different ways.

    Allison’s River of Names was a true-life portrayal of what unfortunately breeds itself within families, cyclical abuse. It did a really great job at bringing that to full circle at the end when one of the character realizes that she’s no different than the rest of her family. The idea that the narrator telling the story, even being out of that situation, still has a fear of harboring malative behaviors is very eerie. That is the haunting aspect of this story. It seems like she can’t ever fully escape her past, like there’s this innate ghost inside of her. She attempts to act normal, but when her girlfriend is talking to her about being a parent, she subconsciously knows that she probably should not. She doesn’t fully trust herself with the normative maternal instincts. It’s actually really sad, because of how realistic that sort of deep rooted familial abuse can take hold on an individual. It makes me think about how hard it is to actually ever truly know someone. What is actually in their heart and what sort of darkness they may be harboring.

    Braverman’s Tall Tales From The Mekong Delta, just now surprised me even more, because I have no idea how the title relates to the story. This one really struck me in a profound way, the subject of stalking was fresh on my mind, because I had just watched the movie Unsane which is in theatres and is a phenomenal story line thriller focused on stalking. It really plays on the formation of relational trust and the possibilities of mind warp, even with a complete stranger.

    It reminds me of a book called The Gift of Fear, which talks about trusting your instincts and highlights very specific red flags for predator type situations including stalking. This same book was highlighted in the movie Unsane that I had just watched, so when I read this story it was even more unsettling than it probably would have been without those precursors. This story did a great job at putting the reader in the main characters shoes, it gave a very realistic portrayal of the stalkers character, solely through dialogue.

    Towards the middle and end of the story when her reality started to shift into another dimension was, I thought, pretty realistic for the psychological disconnect that can happen with high stress situations like that. The slippery slope of her addiction as well probably played into that disconnect and detachment, but the main basis was the slippery slope of the perpetrator infecting her mind with his goal of having her. This story unfortunately reminded me of what could happen, not only with stalker situations, but just with “regular” relationships that can find themselves to become abusive. The influence that can be had with one another when you are in close proximity can be either really good or really bad. She lost herself and I think that’s relatable to a lot of people. The degree to which she lost herself is where the story really shines and now that I think about it, maybe her fantasy life was of The Mekong Delta and that’s where the title came from.

    All in all, two really great stories that were hauntingly eerie and unfortunately realistic.

  11. Aubri Stogsdill

    Dorothy Allison’s “River of Names,” was deeply disturbing. Many of the paragraphs were painful to get through. The level of abuse, cruelty, and violence experienced by these characters had me sick to my stomach. That being said, I feel that the author did a tremendous job of illustrating the life long pain that results from having experienced such a traumatic childhood. The shame and guilt that rests on the shoulders of the main character is so profound and downright tragic. She is so afraid that she will become like the people that raised her, that she isn’t even willing to consider having children. In fact, she’s so afraid of her own past that she can’t share it with her significant other. Its like she is stuck alone with these horrifying memories, and there is no way for her to fix it.

    One theme that I felt was particularly terrible was the loss of innocence. The things she saw and experienced at such a young age were unreal. The blood, rape, violence, and suicide that was all around her would scar any person. Also, the fact that there were so many children caused each one to be less valued by the family. Or at least that is how the character feels. The loss of one life meant very little. Of course, reading that was sickening to me as well because I believe every person has value. For lives to carelessly be lost is a brutal thing.

    I liked that the story was written going back and forth between memories and that present moment. I think that is a compelling way to write and keeps the reader interested.

    1. Naimy Schommer

      I like the point you make here about the value of the children decreasing. That was something I did not think of while reading.

  12. Sierra McCollum

    This week I found all of the readings very disturbing in their own way. They all were dark in their own way, that had the unsettling feeling to them. The story that stood out to me the most would have to be Braverman’s, “Tales from Mekong Delta”. I found the piece to be mysterious and creepy while reading it. There was two main characters of the story, a woman who wasn’t named and a man named Lenny.

    I found Lenny to be a very interesting character. His motives for the woman were not specifically said but you got the sense that it was not anything positive. Usually people don’t walk up to you asking if he could give her a ride of her life. That’s extremely creepy and a red flag. I’m glad she said no, but the weirdness only increased. When he kept showing up to her alcohol meetings it definitely gave me the creeps. He wants something from her and the author makes it very noticable for the reader. I couldn’t imagine being in the womans shoes, experiencing all this weirdness.

    While reading this you can definitely understand the vulnerability the woman was feeling during the time. The whole situation was definitely affecting her in a negative way, making her go back to her old habits and soon she finds herself searching for him. This whole story and the authors writing style is quick dark, but I did enjoy his writing style. Even though the story was a dark topic I did enjoy it.

    The second story that stood out to me but was extremely hard to read was “River of Names” by Dorothy Alliston. I found this story bone chilling and very dark. The main character remember and sharing the abuse they went through with the reader is very hard to take in. It’s noticeable that the main character is not over the abuse he experienced during his childhood. The horrors still live with him and he suffers from it. While reading this story it only grows darker. The horrors the main character is remembering is hard to read. It’s extremely disturbing and bone chilling.

    Both of these stories tell completely different stories but the authors do an amazing job of making the reader disturbed and affected in a way. I found some parts hard to read at times and that can be hard to do as an author. The made the actions, feelings, memories of the characters feel so real. It was like I was sitting right there watching it happen or having the main character tell me what happened in person.

  13. Cassidy Kramer

    The short story “Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta” by Kate Braverman made me extremely uncomfortable just reading it. When Lenny and the main character first met, I was very creeped out by how he was talking to her. It was short, fast, and demanding which I really did not like. Although the story says that Lenny is short and fat, I picture him short and skinny, probably with a beard.
    I was already weirded out by Lenny, and then Braverman had to add that he said he had been watching her for a while. After that, I figured that the main character must have had to run away with her daughter from this strange man. Strangely enough, she did not. Braverman did a good job at narrating the woman in the story. The woman in the story showed that she did not want to do what Lenny wanted her to do, but almost every time she ended up doing it because he was so pushy. I thought the part when the girl did not want to have sex with Lenny was funny because she assumed he had AIDs. I mean, I would too since he was a heroin and cocaine addict.
    What confused me in the story was the woman’s ability into persuasion and peer pressure. She was a recovering alcoholic and cocaine addict, and she was doing good until this guy comes in and persuades her to smoke cigarettes and drink again. I like how the story explains that she is at carton after carton and soon she will be pack after pack. Also, with the alcohol, she will refill her glass, then refill the bottle. This shows that once she is drinking again, it will be very hard for her to stop.
    It is very hard for me to find the weaknesses in stories that I know are written by good authors. It is also hard when I am not familiar with that style of writing. However, I would be more interested if I knew more about the woman and why she is persuaded so easily. I also did not understand the concept behind the color blue, and why it was portrayed so much.
    No matter how disturbing and creepy this story was, I found it interesting. Why was Lenny dressed like that when he seemed like he had money? What happened to the people who lived in the house? Who are the Columbians?
    I will never understand why she kept doing what Lenny wanted her to do, especially with the cigarettes and alcohol, or what her daughter was doing in all of this. Overall, I strangely enjoyed this story because of the mystery it had. I also find short stories very enjoyable, and I really like the book “The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories”.

  14. Naimy Schommer

    oof. Can we talk about “River of Names” because this piece needs a minute to breathe.
    I can’t remember the last time I read a piece that had me genuinely hand-over-open-mouth shocked in the first paragraph. I almost couldn’t finish this story–I tried not to. But when it came down to it, this is the story I had the most violent, passionate reaction to, so its the one I have to write about.

    Part of growing up is learning how your family got it wrong. Until your eyes are opened, you believe that your family is majorly in the right or at least tries to be, and the day you find that that’s not true is the day you start to grow up. The day I learned this about my own family is still the turning point of my own childhood.

    That being said, there’s something that happens to a child when that day comes too early. I can’t help but wonder how this impacts the writer. It would be interesting to look closer and examine how this abusive childhood impacts the way she shows intimacy with her partner. Obviously, it had an impact on her decision to not have children.

    If we’re looking at this piece as non-fiction, there’s nothing you can say to critique it. I think there is a line between critiquing someone’s work and trying to change a raw thought process or emotion, and this piece is only those. To critique it or to suggest a change would be rude and probably a paltry suggestion to the writer.

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