Showing 191 - 200 of 298 annotations contributed by Aull, Felice
This well crafted story concerns a contemporary woman in her thirties who undergoes significant personal losses; in fact, she seems to lose or lack an identity. Over the years, Kat, an "avant garde" fashion photographer, has altered her image, even her name, to suit the situation and the times. She has had two abortions and "learned to say that she didn't want children anyway."
The story begins when Kat undergoes surgical removal of a rare and peculiar ovarian tumor containing hair, teeth, bones (the clinical term is a dermoid cyst ); Kat dubs it "hairball " and stores it in formaldehyde on her mantelpiece. We learn that Kat's relationship with her married lover is going sour, that he will replace her as creative director at work. She fantasizes that she has given birth to "hairball" who she sees as the "warped child" of their failed relationship. Physical symptoms accompany Kat's growing emotional confusion. Hairball becomes the vehicle for an ultimate bizarre act reflecting Kat's personality disintegration. She has gone from being Katherine to Kath to Kat, to K, to being "temporarily without a name."
Written in 1977, "Rape Fantasies" appears to be a recap of a conversation among several women during their lunch hour, a few of them playing bridge, one--Chrissy the receptionist--reading aloud from a tabloid. When Chrissy asks the question, "How about it, girls, do you have rape fantasies?" the story unfolds with each woman’s response, all retold from the perspective of Estelle, who’s doing her best to deflect the entire conversation by concentrating on her bidding.
The conversation is tragically ironic, moving from woman to woman, Darlene calling the entire subject "disgusting," Greta describing a Tarzan-like scenario, Chrissy describing hers in a bubble bath, when Estelle, ever the voice of reason, reminds them that what they’re describing are sexual fantasies: "Listen . . . those aren’t rape fantasies. I mean, you aren’t getting raped, it’s just some guy you haven’t met formally who happens to be more attractive than Derek Cummins . . . and you have a good time. Rape is when they’ve got a knife or something and you don’t want to" (104).
Estelle then describes her rape fantasy where she deflects her attacker by squirting juice from a plastic lemon in his eyes ("You should hear the one about the Easy Off Cleaner"), but also includes the one where "this short, ugly fellow comes up and grabs my arm . . . [and] I say, kind of disgusted, ’Oh for Chrissake,’ and he starts to cry," which prompts a wave of sympathy in Estelle (106). And there are more, each with Estelle warding off her attacker through outsmarting him ("I’ve just found out I have leukemia"), or talking him out of it.
As the narrative continues, the reader becomes aware that Estelle is addressing someone in addition to the reader--"I hope you don’t mind me holding my nose like this . . . " (107) and that person is probably a man (twice Estelle says, "But I guess it’s different for a guy"). As the story ends, we realize that Estelle all along has been in a bar, speaking to a man she has just met, worrying about the possibility she will be raped by him. "Like, how could a fellow do that to a person he’s just had a long conversation with, once you let them know you’re human, you have a life too, I don’t see how they could go ahead with it, right?" (110). We are left wondering whether all these "conversations" are Estelle’s deliberate inventions, her way of trying to control a potentially dangerous social interaction.
When Alice Sebold, author of the best-selling novel, The Lovely Bones (see this database), was completing her freshmen year at Syracuse University, she was assaulted and raped. Years after the fact, Sebold wrote this memoir about the rape and its aftermath. The book's title, "Lucky," is explained in the prologue: the police told Sebold that she was lucky to have escaped the fate of another girl who had been murdered and dismembered in the same spot. In point of fact, Sebold, a virgin before the rape, was in a sense murdered, since life as she had known it would never be the same: "My life was over; my life had just begun" (33).
In crisp, lively prose the author takes us relentlessly through the details of her rape and the police inquiry that followed. We learn also that the narrator had suffered from a poor body self-image, loved to spend her time reading, had day-dreams of becoming a poet. We learn about her family--a mother prone to severe panic attacks and a professorial father who hid behind his books, an older sister who helped Alice take care of their mother. The family was considered by neighbors to be "weird."
After the rape, Sebold felt even more isolated and "Other." She could not bring herself to tell her family, who tip-toed around her, all of the horrendous details of the assault. She realized that all who knew her were aware she had been raped and were uneasy in her presence. Her father could not understand how she could have been raped if the assailant's knife had dropped out of reach.
In spite of everything, Alice returns to Syracuse, taking poetry workshops with Tess Gallagher and a writing workshop with Tobias Wolff. Incredibly, she spots her assailant one day on the street near the college. The author notifies the police, the assailant is later arrested, and Alice agrees to press charges and to be a witness at the trial. Neither her father nor her mother have the stomach to come to the trial, but Tess Gallagher accompanies her. The account of the trial is detailed, agonizing, and fascinating.
Another Dimension is an occasional feature of the journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, published by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These essays (and occasionally poems or stories) focus on human and philosophical issues related to medical practice, scientific research, and public health. The intention of this feature is to bring a new perspective to the journal’s coverage of medical science and public health. Some of the essays include a painting or other image that draws attention to the subject matter of the essay.
Managing editor, Polyxeni Potter, with the encouragement of Joseph E. McDade, founding editor of the journal, initiated and is guiding this feature (see also the annotation of Potter: Emerging Infectious Diseases cover art). Since this is a government site, its material is freely available on-line.
Summary:A son beseeches his elderly father to fight, rather than accept, death: "Do not go gentle into that good night." He gives examples of how "wise men," "good men," "wild men," and "grave men" "rage against the dying of the light," and begs his father to do the same.
Summary:The author begins by avowing that he would never "mourn the majesty and burning of the child's death." He expresses the utter inadequacy of mere words to describe any child's passing.
This delightful, provocative collection is subdivided into five sections that are not easily categorized. Rios, who grew up in the borderland culture of Nogales, Arizona, writes about this culture and his childhood (sections 1,5), family and local legends (section 1), the Sonoran desert and its animal life (section 4) and the complexities and wonder of human experience and human relationships (all sections). Rios deals with both the real and the imagined, often moving from the former to the latter. Deceptively simple language lures the reader into the rich, original landscape of the poet’s vision.
The setting is a room in a home. Stretched out--half lying, half sitting--an elderly man ("the paralytic") gazes passively at a plate of food that is being held out to him by a gentleman who stands, bending toward him. In contrast to the paralytic, who wears a brown house coat, the standing men is properly dressed, but has a cloth draped over his left arm and holds a utensil in his right hand. The paralytic's arms, slightly bent, extend limply over his body; one foot rests on a stool and his lower limbs are covered with a blanket.
Hovering around the invalid with all eyes turned in his direction are several women, children, and a dog. The only figure who is not looking at the patient is a boy who kneels at his side, with an arm placed gently on the man's leg. In his stretched out position, the paralyzed man occupies a large space at the center of the picture and dominates it. The viewer's attention is further drawn to this central figure by the lighting--the background is dark while the cushion against which the man rests is light and glistens, and the man's face is bathed in light. Hence the viewer participates with the family in focusing attention on the invalid.
The speaker had a childhood disability--"my strange, unruly hands"--that made tying his shoes a task to be dreaded, symbolizing failure. He addresses a caregiver who patiently ("for three years, for an hour each day") had taught him to tie his shoes. She reassured the child, "The doctors don't know / everything. You will be normal // someday. Normal."
The caregiver has also experienced bodily difficulties--from curvature of the spine caused by childhood spinal [tubercular] meningitis. She tells the child about her out of body experience ("You told me you'd died once") when she had seen herself on "the table," the "frantic" doctors calling her back "to the particular / boundaries of the flesh." She allowed them to bring her back.
Now, the adult speaker, no longer disabled, ties his shoes "by instinct," "my mind giving itself // up to the common world / of things" but when he focuses on the task, he slows down and remembers his caregiver; he becomes aware of his body, he becomes aware.
This poem is in memory of poet, John Logan (1923-1987), who, it is surmised, killed himself by jumping off a building. The speaker of the poem imagines what might have been troubling Logan, who had been disabled by strokes.