Books, Reviews, Writing

Reading Challenges…..short stories read, and problem solving strategies

Short Story Reading Challenge – Deal Me In 2018

The Card: 4 of Spades RANDOM CARD

The Selection:A View from the Bridge‘ by Cherokee Paul McDonald selected from the book ‘The Norton Sampler Short Essays for Composition’.

Reading this super short story made me marvel at how much can be said in just a couple of pages. While I wondered at how the little boy was left alone on the bridge, I also appreciated the independence (and thus confidence) this would build in him for later.  McDonald uses a combination of dialog and detailed descriptions to let the reader know what is happening, visualize what he is seeing (and be the eyes, for the boy and the reader), and to feel (irritation initially for how brusquely the author treats the little boy, sympathy for that boy, and later a little warming towards McDonald as he helps the boy in his fishing and describes the catch to him, and finally admiration for the boy himself).

This story taught me the importance of observation and of detail, and how important words are. At the same, this story does not fail to be emotionally appealing. The single line that caught my attention here: as McDonald starts describing the fish to the boy, he pauses to ask him “Do you know what I mean by colors?”.  And I learned a new figure of speech – metonymy!

It also made me wonder how I would describe any everyday object to someone who could not see it, or had only heard about it, and did not know what it was at all.

This also brings me to another book I read for the Strategic Reading Challenge – ‘The Book of Think’ on problem solving. This book is geared towards kids (and also can be read by adults to help explore problem solving’s basics) and a little dated in some of the examples it presents (1976) but it does help open up our mind about how we can look around us and at ourselves, observe more closely, and approach problems in different ways to help reach the solution.  This book, while being dated (which can’t be helped as was published in 1976), does have a cool variety of exercises that it prompts the reader to do, which will help increase our observation powers and problem solving abilities.

A writing prompt for you, my readers, based on this post:  Pick some everyday object (maybe a favorite jacket or your purse) and describe it with details so others can picture it as close to real as possible.


4 thoughts on “Reading Challenges…..short stories read, and problem solving strategies

  1. I’m often amazed/impressed by how authors communicate a “full story” in such a short time.

    I don’t see the word Metonymy often, or I didn’t until a few years ago, when a local company formed that calls itself “Metonymy Media”; they are a frequent host of book events, readings, etc. too!

    1. Yes, reading short stories has made me realize the strength of each word; and I am hoping to get there someday myself. and coming up with names for companies is a cool job by itself 🙂

  2. I’m getting addicted to short stories due to Jay’s Deal Me In Challenge! I will look at the story you just read.
    Raymond Carver once said: “When a reader finishes a wonderful story and sets it aside, he should have to pause for a minute and collect himself.” As you said a short story: “much can be said in just a couple of pages”. Sometimes a short story hits me even more than a 500 + page novel!

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