Archive for January, 2014

Local Color

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Fiction, Literary Criticism, Reviews

A New Historicism Look at
Gloria Taylor Weinberg’s A homicide in Hooker’s Point 
by Lynn Perretta

Who does not love just the feel of those two words? When you read them, you are likely to envision the sights and sensations that come from where you grew up and/or spent a great deal of your life – i.e. where you call home. Magazines love these types of stories, especially regional ones, because they bring the reader close to home. A good local color story will wrap you up in a warm blanket and feed you homemade mac & cheese casserole right from the oven.

If you love stories that feature local color, you can thank the post-Civil War era for them. They flourished in American literature as readers wanted stories that presented dialect, manners, and folklore. They wanted to construct places they would likely never get to visit, for example the American frontier, and feel the nostalgia of times passed. (1)

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A Cultural Studies Review of Toi Thomas’ Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel by Lynn Perretta

What is Cultural Studies?
Cultural studies is a branch of literary criticism that branches from New Historicism and is influenced by structuralism and post-structuralism. (Purdue) Cultural Studies combines multiple disciplines: feminism, history, philosophy, media theory, among others. The subjects of the work determine just what discipline Cultural Studies is focused through. Cultural Studies is like New Historicism in that it seeks to understand how culture influences literature. It is not, however, as concerned with historical context of that influence. It does look at the effects of Cultural Hegemony (how minority cultures are subjugated into the dominant culture), Agency (the ability of members of a culture to act for themselves and in their own best interest), and the effects of Globalization on cultures. (Wikipedia)

What is Cultural About Paranormal Fantasy?

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Deconstruction and Richard Marsh’s The Key Bearer Saga: Earn Fire
by Lynn Perretta

I will not even use pretense. I love Deconstructionism. There is something about it that is fun. It is like being given a block house, taking it apart piece by piece, and then figuring out how to put it together again to make the same shape. I imagine my brother felt the same way every time he took apart something electronic and tried to put it together again. He did not always succeed with his task, but he always learned something from the exercise.

With Deconstruction, you are not supposed to put the words back together the same way. You should always get something a little different. The shape will be roughly the same, however, and what you get from the exercise will be uncovering meaning.

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A Reader-Response Analysis of Janet Hudgins’ Treason: The Violation of Trust
by Lynn Perretta

This week, I am reviewing a work of Historical Fiction, okay, it is really a dramatic novelization of an individual from history, but we are not going to split hairs. I know that such a work screams for a New Historian analysis, but I already had one of those when I reviewed Marcia Gates. I am sure that I’ll revisit schools of criticism, but I want don’t want to do so until I’ve gotten to explore as many of them as I can.

Besides, I do not want to give Treason a New Historian treatment. It is deserving of one. I know that when I set out on this project, I said that I was not going to talk about my opinion, that I was going to keep it strictly on the academic analysis. I have to break that rule a little bit here. This book surprised me, and that, for me, lends this book to another school of criticism: reader-response.

Now, Reader-Response criticism is not about opinion. This school of criticism, you will recall, is about the interaction of the text and the reader. In that regard, the intention of the author matters not at all. In fact, we want to pretend, in this school of criticism, that the writer does not even exist. This work just spontaneously appeared one day out of the blue, showing up on Smashwords, Amazon, and other book-selling sites. So, as you continue on with me, do not ask yourself “What did Janet intend?” or “What was Ms. Hudgins thinking about when she wrote this scene?” or “This is very detailed, how long did Ms. Hudgins have to research this?” (The answer is 8 years, by the way.) Instead consider purchasing the book for yourself, and see if you have the same thoughts that I do in reading it.

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A Genre Studies Examination of Jan Jacob Mekes’
Chief Inspector Jewel Friedman
by Lynn Perretta

On Bay Side Stories we are discussing genre. It’s fitting, then, to examine a work in light of its genre. How does it fit into the genre? What characteristics does it fulfill? Is it truly accurate to say that the work belongs to the genre which it is advertised to belong to?

I’m going to examine those questions by looking at Chief Inspector Jewel Friedman by Jan Jacob Mekes. This work is a collection of short stories about a police detective named Jewel Friedman. Mekes describes these stories in his introduction as “light-hearted detective stories”. I’m going to consider the expectations of the Detective Story Genre and how Mekes’ work meets those expectations.

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A New Historicism Analysis of Melissa Bowersock’s Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan
by Lynn Perretta

Melissa Bowersock has written a moving memoir about an Army nurse and prisoner of war: Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan. Bowersock had unique access to Marcia’s story. This was not merely a person chosen from the history books or a name pulled from rosters to be explored and uncovered. This was a family member, her aunt. She relates, primarily through exchanged letters, what happened when Marcia Gates was taken prisoner by the Japanese following the Battle of Corregidor and the fall of Bataan in 1942. The story follows not only what Marcia went through during internment but what her family went through, not knowing what had become of her or if she was even alive.

A memoir is interesting to consider from a New Historicism perspective, especially when written about a time already long past. New Historicism concerns itself with the reality of the author’s day and how that plays into the narrative that is presented. In this case, we have the events of the day being presented later, by an author removed from the action by place (the niece and granddaughter of the protagonists) and by time (the book is written almost seventy years later). What answers does this work give to New Historicism’s most common questions and how does this work fit into the wealth of works about the World War II era?

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by: Lynn Perretta

This week on Streetwraith DotNet, we are taking on dystopian fiction. While most dystopias focus on the future or other worlds, I wanted to highlight a work that explores some of the ideas of the dystopia in the present or more to the point the very recent past. Dystopias are, at their heart, psychological experiments that highlight our fears and, when they dream of their utopian counterparts, our hopes as well. Panos Nomikos’ Fateful Eyes Volume 1: the Puzzle and the Journey highlights this tendency of the dystopia to dream. For a little while, we are going to explore this present exploration of the dystopian themes of terrorism and upheaval, looking at Nomikos’ form for his novel, the dynamics between characters, and the use of some archetypes in characterization.

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Welcome to StreetWraith Press.

For all the writers who have submitted work to us and patiently waited, I want to say thank you. StreetWraith Press is now live. This week, we’re getting the basic content activated: the links and information, etc. Starting next week will be the first of our podcast discussions and reviews. Now, in the splash page, we talked about a monthly article and podcast. As we put the site together, this idea morphed. We decided rather than have a site that only updated on a monthly basis, we would have a site that would update on a weekly basis.

What does this mean to you?

Hopefully, it means you will enjoy the site more and visit often. Each week will feature a short article about a self-published work. This article will explore the literary aspect of the work and offer an in-depth analysis based on literary theories. What theory is used depends on the work. Each book will have a way it wants to be interpreted, dependent on what is happening under the surface. That desire to be interpreted will speak to the theory that we use in analyzing the work.

We will also have a weekly podcast. Initially, we had intended to talk about several works in the podcast, grouping them by a common theme. As we considered the content of the podcasts, however, this changed as well. Now, each podcast will include one work we discuss or one author we interview. This gives us more time to focus on a work and gives us more works we are highlighting each week. I don’t want to talk much about the podcasts here. I had something else I wanted to talk about, but I have rambled on.

What did I want to talk about?

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