Sunday, February 22, 2009

Guardian Angel and "Child's Play"

1. The short story I chose for this week was “Child’s Play” by Alice Munro. This was a flashback story about two girls at summer camp and something that they did together to another girl who is special. After camp, they never see each other again until one, Charlene, is on her deathbed. Marlene comes to visit and is asked to go see a priest. This story had a lot of character development because there are only three characters. I could see the fear that Marlene had for Verna because Verna was different. At the camp, Charlene joined in on what Marlene told her about Verna and disliked the special girl without ever meeting her. The story is set during World War II and during that time many special people were institutionalized instead of being out in the public so there were a lot of people who were afraid or unsure of people who had special needs. In comparing the Guardian Angel and the short story, they are both conspiracies with a murder. The novel also has theft and a bond scam. I thought the novel’s plot was too convoluted and twisted. I could not understand how it fit together unlike the short story which was simple and straightforward in its presentation.
I think that the novel was too long and the short story could have been made into a novel. The short story could have been developed after the girls leave the campground and follows them throughout their lives until the deathbed ending. It could show how the girls felt about what they did and if it affected their choices in life. Guardian Angel was about 100 pages too long. I think Paretsky could have wrapped everything up sooner and done a better job explaining how everything was connected.
I preferred the short story this week because I felt that the novel was too long. It took forever to get to the end and I didn’t really understand how everything was related.
2. Both of my authors were female this week. Their main characters were female, but in the Guardian Angel the murderers are men and in the short story the murderers are children and girls. This is the first short story I have read by a woman and I think there was more character development then in the previous short stories I read. All the short stories have had a surprise ending so far. They don’t always wrap up everything, but leave some things up to our imaginations. Both female authors did a good job with character development and showing relationships.
3. I did like this story. I did not guess what the girls had done at the camp. I knew someone had died from the beginning of the story, but thought it was going to be either Marlene or Charlene not Verna. I am still unsure why Charlene wanted Marlene to take the letter to the priest. Marlene thought it was so Charlene could confess but the story said that Marlene was to take the letter to the priest even if Charlene had already died. Marlene almost didn’t go see her old friend so I wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t. Also, the author did a great job in showing that the girls had an irrational fear of the girl Verna and I think they felt threatened by her and frightened of her and that’s why they killed her.
4. I really did not like The Guardian Angel. I just could not relate to it and did not understand most of the manufacturing problems and how the bank was tied in with the bonds. It was too difficult to keep up with the intrigue. I have read a V.I. Warshawsky mystery before, a long time ago, and did not like that one either. I was hoping that maybe with age I would now appreciate Paretsky’s novels. I don’t know, I may try one more and see if I can find one I like.
5. I have never really thought about how mysteries could be commentaries of society and I am learning to read them in a thoughtful and insightful way. I always thought of mysteries as mysteries not as literature.


  1. I have seen that many of our class mates have chose to read this short story. I will it seems really interesting and has received a lot of good reviews. I will probably choose it for my final female author. Which other V.I. novel did you read?

  2. Like you, I always have viewed mysteries and just mysteries. I read them for entertainment and escape. Maybe a little bit if being a detective vicariously, because I am really very gullible by nature. But I have had my eyes opened and am enjoying thinking about how they can reflect on places, times and ideas.

  3. I agree with you, Guardian Angel was about 100 pages too long. I think having fewer characters with more depth is more interesting than the scatter-shot approach to details in Guardian. I think I would like this story because it is a coming of age story with a significant event (murder/death) and how it affected all downstream events. It is on my read list -- great write-up

  4. You know I have never thought about mysteries other than entertainment either. I have tunnel vision and it is hard for me to see things other than what it is on the surface. This class has definitely opened my eyes a little about other people's views about class, race and gender.