Thursday, February 12, 2009

"The Monks of the Abbey Victoria"

1. The short story I chose for this week was “The Monks of the Abbey Victoria.” This was a very interesting story and a quick read. It is about a broadcasting company and four men who work there. One of the men is new and the other three conspire against him without his knowledge. There is conspiracy in Black Betty but it is for murder and money, not an item. In “Monks” the item is the lineup of shows that is being stolen and sold to another network. The characters in Black Betty were very real to me and I could feel their pain, unlike the characters in “Monks” which to me felt sort of like a thirty minute show on TV. Both authors did a great job with description and allowing me to build great pictures in my head. Both stories have settings in big cities but most of “Monks” is based inside of the workplace and hotels/restaurants. I really liked both stories this week. I was immersed in both and both tricked me with the ending which I didn’t mind. The short story covered all the ingredients in a good short story and so was enjoyable. The authors made sure all the loose ends were tied up and the end of each story.

2. I think that the difference between the writing of the novel and the short story is based on race. Black Betty is set in the 1960’s in the black world in LA with short forays into the white world where there is suspicion, anger, prejudice, and hatred based on race. “The Monks” is set in Manhattan in the 1960’s in a predominately white world in wealthy Manhattan. It is two completely different worlds. They both are about greed and both have innocent people get hurt because of it. In “Monks” it’s the new guy and in Black Betty it’s Betty’s children and Betty herself for losing her family.

3. I did like this story. It did not have a murder but it was light and quick and had a good ending. Once again it shows how easily a man can be led astray by a woman. If Dale had stayed home or refused to be part of the monks then he couldn’t have been accused of stealing. Of course, his wife was encouraging him to join his friends for poker so that he could make connections. I was very surprised about the ending. I thought one of Dale’s co-workers was going to be having an affair with his wife and at the end he was not going to go out with the girl and go home and find out about his wife. I was way off. I guess because I would never set someone up at work so it didn’t occur to me. I really can’t think of anything that I disliked. The story worked for me.

4. I have an easier time comparing this story to The Maltese Falcon because of the conspiracy and “fall guy” in both. The new man is the fall guy in the short story and Sam gets the boy to be the fall guy in the novel. Also in “Monks” there is a woman who seduces Dale and is his downfall, just as Brigid tries to seduce Sam and get what she wants but doesn’t succeed. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s posts and blogs. It is interesting to see how other people react to the same stories; sometimes there is an opposite reaction to what I experienced. I read lots of mysteries but tend to stay with the same authors. This class has given me two new authors to read. I also have found one short story that I liked. The novels we read definitely reflected the times they were set in and brought a bit of history to life.

5. I am enjoying reading the different kinds of mysteries. I see a lot of similarities between Sam Spade and Easy Rawlins. They are both tough and persistent. Most of the mystery novels I have been reading have the amateur detective solving the case. They usually bungle through and then accidentally solve the case. I like how Sam seemed to think things through and solve the case methodically. I will look for more books with a PI as the main character in the future. Expand my horizons a little.


  1. Hi Marcia,

    I think it's interesting too to read the different perspectives on the same works in this class. There are a lot of different thoughts posted by various members in our class that I may not have necessarily had. I have also found it really interesting that many of the different mysteries we've been reading don't always follow the "rules" of a mystery at all. They really seem to vary a lot, especially in the short story form. I'll be interested to see, as this course continues if that remains true.

    I really enjoyed your perspectives on "Monks" and will have to add it to my list of reading for when this class is finished!

  2. Hi Marcia -

    I am really finding it interestesting how everything we have read so far has some elements that can be compared to each other, even when the subjects are so different. I think you did a great job in identifying the underlying theme of "greed" between "Black Betty" and this story -- that is a time-tested motivator in human history. :)

  3. I always find myself drawn to respond to your postings. :)

    I too find it hard to believe what people will do for money. I also like what you said about how you were tricked in the end in both stories. I think I actually liked to be tricked because I like books that throw you off! I find those a much more interesting read.

  4. I also like stories that move quickly, and trick me. I don' mind the occasional short story that leaves a little left to the imagination. I like to guess at what might have happened. But the story needs to be well written for me to like an ending like that. I definitely do not like a novel that leaves things hanging. There is too much that goes on in a novel to leave loose ends. I like the way you have your postings organized. They are so easy to read and follow.