Tuesday, May 12, 2015

More Vampires

Still plugging away at Vampires in the Lemon Grove.  Heart-A-Rama slowed my reading down and I haven’t been able to get back at it.  Doing the undone (cleaning, laundry, answering chatty emails) has taken some time and today, I need to find the owners of all the left behinds.  Each year, after the show closes, a couple of us return to the venue to dismantle the show.  Somehow, I always end up being the custodian of left objects.  This year I have several cooking/baking items, a tennis racket, stuffed animals, aprons and more – all of which need to find their rightful owners.  So it goes.

As far as the book goes – right now I’m thinking we will have a short discussion on Friday. This isn’t a book for a casual discussion group, like ours – not that there’s anything wrong with that, we just don’t get too far into analysis of styles, symbolism and other rhetorical concepts.  We like to focus on plot, character, and motivation, believability.....

This is just a totally different piece, odd for sure, but packed with meaning that needs studied reading to appreciate.  I am enjoying the exercise.  A book hasn’t challenged me like this a long time and it feels good to know I can still read at a deeper level.  I find myself noting pages, phrases, jotting down questions and hopping on the computer to validate what I believe are literary, social, historical and cultural references in each story. 

This entire collection of short stories is unified by the themes of flight and transformation.  Russell even uses forms of  the word “metamorphosis” in various selections, an obvious nod to Kafka.  The second story - about women morphing into silk worms in duty to the state- (told you it was odd) echoes philosophies put forth by Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto.  In fact, Marx even used a silkworm analogy to describe the importance of people knowing their place in a society. 

The third story has Greek influences including the wheel of fortune and fate.  The Greeks believed that we are all cold cocked at some point in our lives, but if we wait long enough, the wheel of fortune will spin in a more favorable direction.  They also believed that we cannot escape fate, which is exactly what the young man in the story discovers.  Choices will be presented to us and we have the freedom to choose from a number of alternatives.   However, the choices we make will always lead us to the inevitable pre-determined outcome – be it good or bad.  There’s also the whole search for self theme that comes through, but not as strongly as the other threads.

That’s as far as I have gotten, partly because I need catch-up time and partly because these are challenging stories that need some digestion.  Hopefully, I will be able to chew on a few more pages before our group meets on Friday.

Thanks for stopping by.