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Jerry Ball (Dexter Circle)
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Card's short stories frequently differ thematically from his longer work. While his longer work revolves around free will and human interaction, his short stories are often written for one main point. It's fair to judge his short stories by how well and interestingly he gets that point across.
"Eumenides in the Fourth Floor Lavatory." The point: payback for past sins is inescapable. This story is unappealing because it violates a cardinal rule of moralistic storytelling. Howard is pursued by his guilt, which has taken in the form of a deformed infant, but the only reason the infant can pursue him in the first place is because he was sufficiently humane to rescue the baby. Card seems to be saying that if Howard had left the child in the lavatory, he could have walked away from his guilt entirely. A good fable should show the reader how a man's moral failings, and not his moral strengths, become his undoing. Rating: Unsatisfactory.
"Quietus." The point: death can be accepted more easily if one has children. This story is extremely appealing to me, because it simultaneously incorporates familiar Mormon references and ordinary scenes into a surreal storyline. The result is disorienting, yet perfected suited to Card's exposition. Rating: Outstanding.
"Deep Breathing Exercises." The point: if we pay close attention, we are all linked together in death. I'm not sure if Card had any point to make, or whether he had just the one idea of synchronous breathing. Probably the latter, although Card is fascinated with human interaction as a general principle, as evidenced in his works such as "Xenocide." Overall, the story is worth a read and that's about it. Rating: Good.
"Fat Farm." The point: you cannot escape the consequences of your vices. Card uses a fun way of making his moral point. My only objection is that we don't find out the dirty job that Barth H has been tasked to do. I'd love to see a continuation of this story. Rating: Excellent.
"Closing the Timelid." The point: if we give in to our senses we will come to crave anything, even death. I suppose other lessons could be drawn from this story, but I believe the principal one is the one I describe above. The story itself is so-so -- it doesn't really capture your attention like Card's somewhat similar "Clap Hands and Sing." Rating: Satisfactory.
"Freeway Games." The point: what goes around comes around. I sum up the story with a cliché because there's not much substance to it; that said, it's a very entertaining read. Rating: Good.
"A Sepulchre of Songs." The point: fulfillment of our deepest wishes may come at too high a price. This story turned out to be a gem, while in the hands of a lesser author it could have been awful. It's easy to be manipulative when it comes to suffering children. Hollywood uses it as a plot device when things are dragging, so "kids in jep" has a justifiably bad rep. Here, however, Card shows the proper amount of skill and tact when dealing with the subject, and its use is central to the story. Rating: Outstanding.
"Prior Restraint." The point: if people had the ability to manipulate the present through time travel, they would, no matter what evil it would cause. Asimov wrote a better story with the same point, called "The Winds of Change." Here, Card even puts a kid in jep (actually, he kills him off) unnecessarily, which is a no-no. Shame on Card for doing that and for putting together an ineffectual and boring story. Rating: Unsatisfactory.
"The Changed Man and the King of Words." The point: if we do not guard our inner selves, myth can overpower us. Card has a fascinating point, and post-September 11, one that is extremely relevant. However, he lets the story get too wrapped up in its form (Greek, Shakespearian tragedies; Freud) to allow proper exposition of its substance. He also throws in lots of metaphor and symbolism but doesn't do a good job stitching them together. It's still an entertaining read, but is ultimately somewhat unsatisfying, which Card himself admits in his "Afterword." Rating: Good.
"Memories of My Head." The point: the division between reality and fantasy for a depressed, desperate person can be awfully thin. I found myself liking this story in spite of myself, because even though it doesn't really go anywhere, it captures a boiling rage so perfectly and combines it with a disorienting point of view. Read the story to enjoy its mood, not for any particular elucidation. But I still have a nagging suspicion that I'm missing something more profound. Rating: Excellent.
"Lost Boys." The point: love can bind us after death, even if only temporarily. Once again Card puts kids in jep, but like "Sepulchre of Songs" he does so with skill. Yes, the story is emotionally manipulative, but Card is appropriately only semi-apologetic about it. One minor complaint: the connection between the video game and the lost boys is never really connected in the short story. I understand that they are in the book, but I have not yet read the book, so I can't say for sure. Rating: Excellent.