Showing 51 - 60 of 141 annotations contributed by Willms, Janice

A Rose for Emily

Faulkner, William

Last Updated: Jan-30-2006
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This tale covers several decades in the life of the protagonist, Emily Grierson. In a typically Faulknerian style, the reader is led back and forth over time by an unidentified narrator, known only as we. The viewpoint is that of generations of observers in Miss Emily's southern town who have watched and speculated about her since she was a young woman living under the thumb of a father characterized as controlling.

After father's death, Emily lives in the aging family mansion with a manservant as cook, gardener, and general handyman. A few years pass and a handsome laborer from the North arrives as part of a project crew. Emily and this man are seen to be keeping company. One day Emily appears in the apothecary and buys arsenic. The man in question is not seen again by the townspeople.

Thirty years pass and Emily does not leave her home; she ages, grows fat with long, iron-gray hair, and becomes increasingly reclusive, and eventually dies. The now elderly houseman admits the city fathers to the home and disappears, never to be seen again. As the townspeople go through the house they discover a locked door, which when broken down leads into a dusty, musty and faded room. In the bed lie the skeletal remains of a man whose clothes and toiletries (recognized by those who recall Emily purchasing them and having them inscribed with the laborer's initials) occupy the room. On the indented pillow next to the remains is a single, long, iron-gray hair.

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Hands

Anderson, Sherwood

Last Updated: Dec-01-2005
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Adolph Myers (aka Wing Biddlebaum) is an aging former schoolmaster who is noted in his Ohio town for the incessant activity of his nervous hands. For twenty years Wing has isolated himself from nearly everyone except for young George, whom he wishes to educate about life much as Socrates had shared his experience with the young men at his feet. In a moment of inspiration, the old man laid his hands upon the boy's shoulders. Suddenly he turned and hurried away, saying that he could no longer talk with his friend.

The story then moves into Wing's past to explain the events of his young days as Adolph, the school master in Pennsylvania. Myers was driven from his school and home by a bevy of men who accused him of perverted behavior towards the pupils whose shoulders he stroked and hair he touched in his effort to carry a dream into the boys' young minds. Thus ended the teacher's career and developed his lifelong attempt to still his nervous hands.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This tale is a fantasy in which a mountain climber falls into a strange and isolated society of non-seeing persons--claimed to have been in existence for fifteen generations and cut off from the rest of the world by an earthquake. The interloper decides quickly that "In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

However, incident after incident proves him wrong in a society that no longer knows the word "see" and operates perfectly effectively and happily with the other finely tuned senses. Virtually imprisoned, and relegated to serfdom, the visitor begins the acculturation process of learning to live with his own disability--vision. Eventually he falls in love and gains permission to marry if he will agree to have his eyes, which have been deemed the cause of his irrational outburst, removed. His decision and its outcome make up the climax of the story.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The Civil War antique, 104 year old "General" Sash, is the central figure. For him, "living has got to be such a habit . . . that he couldn't conceive of any other condition." This tale opens with a carefully crafted description of the absolute mutual inability of the principles--Sash and his 62 year old granddaughter, Sally Poker--to operate on the same wave length. Sally dotes on the fabricated fame of her ancient grandfather, and Sash, whose memory is essentially gone except for his recall of "beautiful guls" and his love of being on stage, lives for the moment while scarcely grasping it.

The story evolves around the later-in-life acquisition of a BS degree by Sally, and her need to have her "famous" grandfather behind her at the ceremony in his full Hollywood military attire. The anticipated day, a hot, muggy day in the south, arrives. The principles, with the addition of a 10 year old relative as wheelchair jockey, take their places for the ceremony. The final pages of the story enter--literally and figurative--into the head of the "General" as he perceives his personal "black procession."

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Collection (Quotations)

Summary:

This slim volume dips into "quotable quotes" drawn from literature and historical writings dating back several centuries. The quotes are put forth by physicians, patients, observers of medical issues, and writers of fiction as well as essayists. Each quote is but a few lines. The author, the source, and the date (when known) are provided for each quotation.

Many of these quotations will be familiar to persons who are widely read or who study the literature by and about medicine. Some of the quotes are scatological in the sense that they address issues of bodily parts and functions; others are simply amusing, while many are profound observations. The range is wide and the selections eclectic.

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The Verdict

Reed, Barry

Last Updated: Aug-26-2005
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

A down-and-out attorney, who has become somewhat obsessed with the case of a severely impaired woman who had suffered brain damage during the course of a surgical procedure, presses forward to prove medical malpractice. In the course of developing the case he is opposed by the Bishop of the diocese which owns the hospital in question; one of the most powerful law firms in the city; and, acting as "spy" for the defense team, a beautiful woman lawyer.

Galvin, the protagonist, is encouraged to continue his pursuit of justice by an honest former partner and his own belief in the patient's childrens' right to a settlement. Galvin wins his case by proving that the medical records have been altered.

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Juliana Cloth

Boyle, T. Coraghessan

Last Updated: Jan-31-2005
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A trader from the north arrives by boat in Miriam's village carrying bright and beautiful bolts of fabric--the juliana cloth of the story's title. The trader chooses to trade fabric for sex with some of the village women and girls; for others, perhaps the less appealing, he will take only money. Miriam wants a piece of the cloth, but hasn't the coins to buy and is not offered a trade. Over time, the village watches the more adventurous and attractive women and some of their male partners sicken and die from a strange new malady.

Miriam's mother, a widowed government employee, warns Miriam of the relationship between the deadly sickness and sexual behavior. The officials have promised condoms, but even had they arrived, the programs for education and understanding were not in place. The last we see of the 16-year-old Miriam, she is succumbing to her own adolescent sexual desires with a local boy.

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25 Months: A Memoir

Stewart, Linda McK.

Last Updated: Jan-25-2005
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Summary:

This sensitive, but profoundly realistic narrative, of a journey from the lively, healthy marriage of two individuals deeply in love with life and with one another into the abyss of Alzheimer's dementia is told from the viewpoint of one partner. The author allows the reader to enter into her struggle with the month-to-month diminution of her beloved husband's world. The progression over the entitled "25 months" contains just the right amount of flashback to give the reader a sense of who Jack had once been and what life had held for both members of this partnership--the better to accentuate the sense of loss that this disease underscores.

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Pilgrim

Findley, Timothy

Last Updated: Oct-12-2004
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

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

Genre: Novel

Summary:

The narrative of Pilgrim and his psychiatrist, Carl G. Jung, begins with Pilgrim's most recent unsuccessful attempt to kill himself. The surrealistic nature of the tale begins with this mysterious inability of the title character to exit life--a life self-proclaimed to have covered multiple incarnations over millennia each of which he has memory. His friend and his servants take him to Zurich to the renowned psychiatrist's clinic for institutionalization and therapy. Enter Dr. Jung, whose personal and professional life assumes a dominant role in the narrative.

As the story progresses, the reader learns from Pilgrim's journals the interstices of his seemingly endless voyage. While Pilgrim's tale--real or imagined--is progressively revealed, the immediate lives of the Jungs are explored in increasing depth. Layer upon layer of development of plot, past and present, is peeled away until Pilgrim escapes his prison and Jung's emotional chaos is exposed.

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Summary:

Author Horace Davenport is a retired professor of physiology who had a distinguished career in medical science. This book reflects his more recent interest in the history of medicine and physiology in the 19th and 20th centuries. The best summary of this transcription with commentary resides in the author's own introductory paragraph, paraphrased here: From 1899 to 1900 fourth year medical students at the University of Michigan doing their medicine and surgery rotations attended a diagnostic clinic twice a week with George Dock, A.M., M.D., professor of theory and practice of clinical medicine. Dr. Dock had a secretary make a shorthand record of everything that was said at these clinics by Dock himself, the patients, and the students.

The clinics and recording of the interactions continued until the summer of 1908 when Dr. Dock left Michigan for a position at Tulane. The typed transcripts of these sessions fill 6,800 pages. This book is Davenport's distillation and, on occasion, clarification of these documents. In these transcriptions resides not only a view of the practice of academic medicine at the turn of the 20th century, but also a glimpse at one clinician's interpretation of clinical material in his own time.

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