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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Garden Party (short story)(1922) by Katherine Mansfield

Katherine Mansfield wore a strong blazer and had bangs.

Short Story Review
The Garden Party (short story)(1922)
 by Katherine Mansfield

  True confession: I despise the short story as an art form.  Example:  I've been reading the New Yorker since junior high and I have NEVER read a SINGLE short story in the New Yorker. EVER.  It's not a rational thing but I don't want to engage with a work of fiction that tops out at 20 pages.  If I'm going to read something 20 pages long, I'd rather have it be something challenging, not a story.  By the same token, I don't want to read a 500 page book on a challenging non-fiction subject, but I'll read a 500 page story all day.

  After reading 90% of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die published in the 18th and 19th century I was under the impression that they didn't include short stories, because there are maybe 5 out of 250 titles.  Like...there are no Anton Chekhov short stories on the 1001 Books list.  I've never read Chekhov, but I kinda thought that was the whole point of 1001 Books.  If you are going to include short stories, why not poems?  I mean, T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland seems like it really might be one of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.

  Mansfield got in because I don't think she has a novel, and she scores high on the diversity meter, not because she's a woman, but because she was born in New Zealand.  That makes her the first author from Australia OR New Zealand to make the 1001 Books list.  Virginia Woolf was a fan, but The Garden Party isn't particularly cutting edge in terms of technique.  It does combine the "Garden Party" title/plot with the prospect of a care free young maiden contemplating the horror of death in explicit fashion.

  The level of acuity in terms of the depth of psychological observation and the economy (obviously) of the prose are to be admired, but still it hardly seems worth the time to read.

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