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Traps by Lee Martin

Traps by Lee Martin

This piece was gorgeous.

On the surface, this piece details a father and son setting up a trap. It delves deeper into their relationship, Martin feeling like he wasn’t what his father wanted, and and identity crises.  I usually hate country or bard yard settings (sorry) but the image of his father losing his hands was subtle yet powerful. The simple images were powerful period. One scene in particular where the author was describing having to assist his father in killing animals pulled on emotional strings but gave you a clear, grave almost in a sense, image. I appreciate all his images and how he portrays them in a clean, effective way. This is something I have to work on. 

The climax was interesting and it read as such a guy story with the way they didn’t talk about what happened and just put it past him. It was so sad how he had to take care of his father and unusual for the average son to be so familiar with their father’s naked body. It showed the love between family; regardless of the abuse he felt from his father, he did what he needed to do for him. And his father wasn’t that bad, just bitter.  He revealed personal and traumatic things beautifully. His perception of his father’s words at the end may be different than the reader’s, but  it leaves you with a thought. Great read. 

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Wake-Up Call by Catherine A. Musemeche

Wake-Up Call by Catherine A. Musemeche

“Her death, hours later, was the conclusion to one of the worst nights of my life. I had participated in a full-blown flail—a sequence of medical maneuvers that couldn’t possibly be successful but are performed against all better judgment. I felt terrible about it—for the patient, who deserved better, and for those of us who participated. Whatever comes next for my mother, I hope she is not flogged this way with painful procedures that cannot save her.” 

The author reflects on how the medical knowledge that comes with being a surgeon often dampens the hope she has for her mother to live, as her mother is battling failing organs.The conclusion was beautiful. She explores the what-ifs and honestly admits that it could be much worse; she honestly admits that she doesn’t know what is best. There is a Chinese parable about a farmer with a son who breaks his leg but ends up not being drafted because of it, with the prevailing moral being “Who knows what is good or bad?” Who knows. 

Blood is throughout the essay, making our mortality even more apparent. I believe in the spiritual, in our current bodies being limiting, in our immortality. Reading things about flesh and death always make me feel ready to part from my body.

The Wonder of Geese by Bryan Furuness

The Wonder of Geese by Bryan Furuness

The voice in this piece was good.I did not feel like a “craft” essay excerpt, but felt like the natural thought of the author. I don’t think I would like a professor who randomly shouted, “Geese” whenever they passed the window either, but I do agree with his sentiments about wonder. “Allow yourself to wander” may be a better phrase. One can wonder in his own style but it is not as organic as wandering; there is often an air of pretentiousness or philosophy. Wandering is discovery. Wandering is going where your mind takes you. It is not always easy to be that naive and honest but it is often beautiful. That’s what I got out of the story, at least.  

The Twenty-Nine-Pound Rat Trap by CB Bassity

The Twenty-Nine-Pound Rat Trap by CB Bassity

Living in a farmhouse in New York seems incessantly paradoxical to me. This is a short story about a man living in upstate New York who is bothered by a rat who is simply too slick for his traps. I do enjoy short stories in general, but I acknowledge that they are difficult to pull off. You must build up anticipation, have a solid plot (or part of a juicy plot), and give a good voice in tone all without very much space. This piece was extremely short, so I must acknowledge that it is hard to do all of those things within this frame, however, the piece was simply lacking. There was a bit of build up; I had anticipation on my part to see how the rat would be caught or if there was some moral at the end of the story. It was not horrible, but this piece does seem like one that will stay as a blog entry and not be taken to the next level of publishing or heavy circulation. It was a nice read, but not a great read. Well crafted though. Three stars.

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Untitled by Madison George

Untitled by Madison George

George details an account in which a serious accident takes place right before her eyes, one which could result in fatalities, yet she notices something that she apparently could not see prior to the accident: people as people. She says that seeing different races work together in times of need; that urgency evades us of our social precepts. The piece is short but the message is resounding. 

The Baptism of Oma Ray by Derick Strode

The Baptism of Oma Ray by Derick Strode

Because “religion” is so ingrained into many people’s lives, childhood thoughts such as this are extremely common: 

I grew up knowing Aunt Oma was going to hell. Mom and Dad often talked about it in the front seat of our Thunderbird on the way home from church. 

The author doesn’t seem to concerned with religion even though his family is. He seems neutral, which proves to serve the reader well in creative nonfiction. 

I loved this piece because it seems completely honest; he characterizes the “old aunt” well, given the usage of the word “spunk”, which is one of my personal favorites. It was sort of endearing, the way Oma had a new calmness to her; it was as if she was now at peace. I pictured her in white, even when he disclosed the fact  that she was wearing a navy blue skirt, I kept her in white.

He constructed the setting nicely. I envisioned fireflies and all sorts of bugs, not in the gross way, but in the still, country, cricket humming, beautiful way. It seemed a bit baffling that Oma would wait so long to get saved and even go so far as to ask God why he would not save her. Maybe she was waiting on the right time. Maybe she knew that at 80 she would be ready. It was Oma’s choice, and by her speech and actions described, it was sacredly special to her. ;

We then see a shift that reveals what the piece is really about: the author’s relationship with his father. He is witnessing his father age, and is coping with the very apparent changes that make the reality of our mortality ever present. He cherishes his father; admires him. He had become so used to his father’s deterioration that he was moved by the clarity of his singing. I do think that he should of named the piece differently; it just does not seem to come full circle. This could be an excerpt though. Or the author may have wanted to sequence it that way, because the baptism led him to share that special moment with his father. Overall the writing is very inviting and it is easy to be present with his family in his writing.