Archive | April, 2015

Katherine Anne Porter

9 Apr

I’ll be honest, I’ve finished my book of Katherine Anne Porter stories, and now I feel lost. What do I pick up next? Who can provide me with such throbbing, rich gems as a Katherine Anne short story?? How do I go on without more?!? This last question is fairly dramatic, and actually rhetorical. If you could see my “to-read” list, you would understand… but it does give you a sense of how I feel now that I have read and finished “The Leaning Tower”, the last story in my edition.

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I started these stories in September and have been reading them, off and on, with much pleasure since then. I finished them today! With “Holiday” being the first I read (well, “Flowering Judas” was the one that got me started), and finishing with “Leaning Tower”, which is placed in Berlin, in the ’30’s. What marvelous, stylized, dark and moody prose. I love Katherine’s stories, fiercely. I haven’t loved a short story writer so much since O’Connor! It’s true. She reminds me of O’Connor in that her characters are almost always unsavory- people you would not want to know. Mean spirited, narrow minded, down-and-out, weird, self-centered, yet she brings you into their world, and their humanity. In many of her stories, there is no redemption for her characters, quite the opposite actually, but there is redemption in the humanity that she paints with her punctuated prose. Some standouts include: “Leaning Tower”, “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”, “Flowering Judas”, “A Day’s Work”, “The Old Order”. She has a novel too, “Ship of Fools” and I suppose I will need to read that as well so I don’t feel lost without my Katherine to read nights. I hope I am not disappointed, as with “Wise Blood”.

Here is an excerpt from “Old Mortality”: “She was a spirited-looking young woman, with dark curly hair cropped and parted on the side, a short oval face with straight eyebrows, and a large curved mouth. A round white collar rose from the neck of her tightly buttoned black basque, and round white cuffs set off lazy hands with dimples in them, lying at ease in the folds of her flounced skirt which gathered around to a bustle. She sat thus, forever in the pose of being photographed, a motionless image in her dark walnut frame with silver oak leaves in the corners, her smiling gray eyes following one about the room. It was a reckless indifferent smile, rather disturbing to her nieces Maria and Miranda. Quite often they wondered why every older person who looked at the picture said, “How lovely”; and why everyone who had known her thought her so beautiful and charming.”

 

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