Stories that Enlighten: Illusions, by Richard Bach
Illusions was Richard Bach’s encore to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and in my opinion, his magnum opus as well.
Confident Writing: Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
Styron’s writing is muscular, confident; he writes with the poise and pluck of a man who knows he can use any damn word he likes.
Poignant Little Stories: All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot
An artist sees hue and value, a choreographer watches how people move. A writer sees little stories in everyday situations.
Completing the Circle: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
“I’m turning in my card.” Francie pushed the wrinkled dog-eared card covered with stamped dates across the desk. The librarian picked it up and was about to tear it into two, when Francie took it back from her. “I guess I’ll keep it after all,” she said.
Deceptive Simplicity: I Heard the Owl Call My Name, by Margaret Craven
“Marta, something strange happened tonight. On the bank of the river I heard the owl call my name,” and it was a question he asked, an answer he sought.
How Clear Should the Message Be? The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
The strength of this piece is its message of Darwin in the Wild. We often hear that our stories shouldn’t boast of their messages. Nevertheless in good stories the messages are there.
Too Much Detail, or Not Enough? Elegies for the Brokenhearted, by Christine Hodgen
The author chose to create a detailed portrait, to use the little brushes and paint the small details. It works if the details are interesting, if the presentation is well written.
Sometimes You Don’t Hear the Music: War and Remembrance, by Herman Wouk
The set-up: WWII is coming to a close. Navy captain “Pug” Henry’s marriage to Rhoda is at an end following infidelities and the turmoils of war. Yet one tiny window of opportunity remains open.