Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How Many Words Does It Take To Sum Up a Life?

First Sentence:

"He awoke to the sound of rustling sheets around him and the fire burned through his body; the pain of idleness and of being nearer to death than life."

Window on the South Wall by Jeremy Mark Lane is one of the shortest stories I have ever read. At only 3 pages, it has to deliver a lot in a very small amount of time.

The story is told through an anonymous young man's eyes. There are no names in this story. He lives in a children's hospital, and is their oldest patient (at 19). He is paralysed from the neck down, and spends his days in emotional agony, waiting for an end that never comes. 

One day a stranger visits the hospital. A beautiful woman, and light is brought into his dark life once again.

A quick, little story that doesn't really end. In place of one, we are given something more akin to a new beginning. This book is the outline of a story. The bare minimum required for understanding and interpretation. It provides the reader with basic edges, that they can expand on and fill in themselves. 

However, because of its length, the story is over before it's begun. So it can be a little difficult to immerse yourself in, but - as with most short stories- it gets better with time. Because you can read the entire book in the time it takes to brush your teeth, the ending can come rather abruptly. Give your mind a little time to catch up and for the meanings to sink in.

The plot is complicatedly simple. It conveys everything you need to know about the character's emotions, but not necessarily everything you'd want to know. There are a lot of gaps, but the story wouldn't feel quite so ethereal if every little detail was given.

Overall, I enjoyed what there was of it, but I often have an internal debate when it comes to short stories. On one hand, I wish there was a little more, that they were a little longer, but on the other hand, I don't. Adding more information can distort the atmosphere too much and lessen the meaning of the story. It's down to the individual in the end. 

Interesting and a little eerie, with just a hint of bittersweetness. 

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

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