Showing 1211 - 1220 of 1227 Fiction annotations

The Scarlet Plague

London, Jack

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

It is the year 2073. A boy and his grandfather, clad in animal skins, are walking through deep woods. Having fought off a bear, they come to a fire on the beach, where several other boys sit watching their sheep. Their grandfather asks for a crab and they tease him with empty shells until he cries. Finally, they relent and ask him to tell his story about the past and the scarlet plague.

The grandfather had been a literature professor at The University of California-San Francisco. In the summer of 2013, rumors began that a new plague was killing people in New York. Those infected developed a scarlet rash, had a few convulsions, then settled into a sleep-like state in which they became numb and died, their bodies decomposing almost immediately. The entire process took at most an hour, but sometimes as little as ten minutes. Bacteriologists died even as they tried to find a vaccine. People began dying by the millions. The plague finally reached San Francisco and mayhem broke out. The wealthy tried to flee the city and the poor murdered them and looted in revenge for their long oppression.

The professor survived. He lived alone in the Grand Canyon for three years, then set out to see if anyone else was alive, finding a workingman and his woman slave. He met others and began a family which included the boys to whom he is telling his story. There is no means of communicating across the country or to other nations, since the fires set by looters consumed nearly every structure. Society has been set back to a nomad existence. The boys do not believe most of their grandfather’s story. They fight amongst one another and with him in a language that is only partly English. Finally, they rise, leaving the grandfather to straggle along behind into the wilderness.

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Time's Arrow

Amis, Martin

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Marta, Jan

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Tod Friendly awakens from death, rejuvenates, and becomes a surgeon. In New York he becomes John Young. He travels to Lisbon and a privileged existence as Hamilton de Souza. He leaves Lisbon for Salerno, then Rome. As Odilo Unverdorben he travels north to Auschwitz Central where he resumes his surgical career and conducts research. Through this time he has a series of affairs until he joins his wife. Their daughter dies, they marry, then court. Odilo works as a doctor, then attends medical school. He joins a youth organization and lives with Father and Mother. Finally, he enters Mother.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This short narrative, delivered in the first person by the protagonist, George Dedlow, is a summary of the fictive experience of a wounded Civil War Captain. George's training as a surgeon was interrupted by the war and he entered the Union Army as an infantry officer. He was shot by musket in both arms, resulting in the amputation of one at the shoulder. After rehabilitation, he returned to the battlefield, only to lose both legs at mid-thigh and subsequently the remaining arm to infection.

The remainder of the story is that of a trunk, a body and head without extremities, who experiences all the manifestations of the phantom limb syndrome. The final episode is an encounter at a seance during which Dedlow is transiently reunited with his missing legs.

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Dr. Rapallo

Menick, Stephen

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The story begins with Dr. Frank Rapallo's son recalling his father's funeral and then progresses with a series of vignettes that show us who Dr. Rapallo was and how he died. Rapallo was an old time doctor who loved his work and whose patients told him "everything."

The boy was only seven when his father had radiation treatment for a cancer of his shoulder; subsequently, he had surgery to try to save the arm, but this left a hole "big enough to fit my hand." The hole never healed. He lost the arm anyway, but continued to perform operations with the assistance of Matthew, his young Japanese partner. The son reflects on his father's experiences in World War II--he was profoundly moved by the destruction in Japan and by the courage of Japanese physicians.

A strong, dedicated doctor, Rapallo was painstakingly honest, both with his patients and himself. In the end, he developed an incurable infection in his incurable wound. With characteristic dignity, Dr. Rapallo set about doing his last things--seeing patients for a few hours, visiting with his old friend Finch--and then in the evening took the contents of the vial he had prepared, and died.

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Playing God

LaCombe, Michael

Last Updated: Aug-13-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A woman named Kitty calls the doctor and reports that her husband has died. "Can you come over?" she asks. At the house he finds that the husband has been shot in the head. It is evident that the wife has killed him. The doctor reflects that Kitty "held the record for most abused woman in Taylor County." He remembers how many times he has seen her badly beaten by her husband. In the end he decides to "play God." He calls the police chief and reports the death as a "clear" suicide.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

This is the tale of the rise and fall of a gullible young woman who comes under the tutelage of a "quack," a practitioner of faith healing. Phillida firmly believes that she has the gift of healing and the reader finds herself wanting to warn her that she is about to unwittingly harm herself and others. The polemic against this form of medical charlatanism is only thinly veiled in the "art" of the romance form in which it is written. The plot itself is much less intriguing than the cast of characters Eggleston creates to expose the methods of late nineteenth century spiritual mesmerism as a means of public exploitation.

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Mr. Peebles' Heart

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins

Last Updated: Apr-12-1996
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A physician comes to live with her sister and brother-in-law while setting up practice in their town. She observes the relationship between the two and determines to practice her art, albeit a bit deceitfully, to remedy what she sees as unhealthy and unhappy between the elderly married couple. The story unravels the physician's psycho-social methods and follows their implementation to an apparently successful outcome.

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Aghwee the Sky Monster

Oe, Kenzaburo

Last Updated: Mar-18-1996
Annotated by:
Taylor, Nancy

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A college student takes a job as companion to a young composer who is considered crazy. The composer believes the ghost (Aghwee the Sky Monster) of his son visits him because his soul cannot rest; it cannot because the father allowed the child to die by agreeing to have it fed only sugar water. The composer dies when he thinks he's saving his son from being struck by a truck. The narrator, ten years later, recounts the composer's story because he connects it in his mind with an important event in his own life.

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Geezers

LeGuin, Ursula

Last Updated: Feb-20-1996
Annotated by:
Dittrich, Lisa

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A middle-aged businessman goes to a small coastal town to have a relaxing weekend. That weekend, the "Sightseeing Seniors of Cedarwood, A Christian Community" are also visiting, and the protagonist is quite disconcerted by being constantly mistaken (by waitresses, the seniors themselves, etc.) for a member of this group.

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The English Patient

Ondaatje, Michael

Last Updated: Dec-15-1995
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction — Secondary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

In the waning days of World War II, Hana, a Canadian nurse, refuses to leave the temporary hospital in a Tuscan villa where she cares for her mysterious English patient, a soldier burned and bandaged beyond recognition. The patient is haunted by the memory of a love affair in North Africa. Hana is joined by Kip, a Sikh bomb-disposal expert, who becomes her lover, and by Caravaggio, a friend of her father and sometime-criminal-turned spy. The three establish a loose pattern of precarious existence in a ravaged world and form a bond of love around the dying man whose identity they try to uncover.

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