Book Club Discussion: "Reassignment"

in SteemhousePublishing10 months ago

The Steemhouse Community has been looking forward to the opportunity to organize an online book club right here on Steem, where we can discuss published stories both novel-length and short form, and earn rewards for doing it. Our new literary journal published a collection this week that we are very proud of, and while the site itself is not completely finished, we’re thrilled that we can go ahead and use it to curate some of the best short fiction on Steem.

Reassignment: by M. Elaine Moore

Five-year-old Rys finds himself in a situation nothing could have prepared him for when something goes wrong with his anesthesia during surgery.

Read “Reassignment” Here

We’ve provided two questions to encourage discussion in the comments. Pick one of them, respond to both, or ignore them completely and discuss anything about this story you’d like. The author is available to join the conversation with us!

Just after my fifth birthday, I died during surgery. Yes, there was a light, just like they say. And no, the doctors couldn't make me alive again. I've been dead ever since.

Question 1:

This story has a very powerful opening hook. How important do you think opening hooks are and what is it about this one that grabs the attention?

Question 2:

To what did you initially attribute the very grown-up voice of little Rys?

 10 months ago 

This story was very distinctive to me. The voice of the five-year old was striking in its maturity, but I noticed a gradual devlopment of the voice toward the end of the story when the reason he sounded so grown-up was made clear. I think that authors always have to be mindful of this when writing from the POV of a child, which is extremely difficult. But in this case it worked. I did notice but felt compelled to keep reading for answers rather than put the story aside out of inability to suspend disbelief.

Opening hooks? They make or break a story. When I'm reading for pleasure or as an editor, I know within 50 words if the author has enough skill to tell the story they're attempting. I won't keep reading if I have no confidence in the storyteller. "Reassigment" has a killer hook. It's not entirely unique in the world of fiction (think of The Lovely Bones and other books in a similar vein,) but it's plenty interesting and does its job well. In my opinion, no premise or storyline has to be 100% unique to be good. I mean, if you think about it--is there anything new under the sun? I believe it was King Solomon who said that centuries ago, yet we're still writing, reading, singing, and playing songs composed from the same 7-note scale.

Ah oh my god
this book has a very good ending I never knew how to make good endings. I write the whole thing well and the ending would be so messed up. And even the story is amazing. I am still clueless about how do ppl make amazing endings

Tell us what you liked about it, @blackpools. :-)

Well I loved the part where, he just knew what to do and how he was gonna help her. Okay it was to sweet. Like she was sad and u get an imaginary friend. I really want one too.

I choose not to respond to either of the writing prompts but to post my reaction to the story.

Firstly, the opening hook is extremely compelling as noted--but the ending surpasses it.

The short story is a challenging format that denies its writer a lot of the "luxuries" afforded to the novelist. For example, the luxury of taking paragraphs, chapters and subplots to develop and stretch the characters, as well as the imagination of the readers. A short story has to make those characters something like an anomaly image on a radar screen. Its effect on the reader's consciousness is not fully identifiable, but it is formidable enough to be consciously noted. M. Elaine Moore has mastered this technique in this story.

And there is a foreshadowing of the ending within the text (no spoiler; just hear me out...) which does exactly what a well-written foreshadow is supposed to do: be a mind-grenade that detonates after the explosion of the ending, thereby guaranteeing the mind of the reader is thoroughly blown.

This story does one other thing which is probably specific to my reaction. Even though the narrative's tenor bounces from bright to foreboding (due to subject matter) and then back again, I found the reading to be a gently comforting experience. Let me explain.

I am in my mid-60s (yeah, yeah, I know: "ok, Boomer...") and at this point in my life, the possibility of stepping through this final threshold looms larger and more feasible than at any other time I can recall. . . except when I was in a serious auto accident. In some unexplainable, esoteric yet soothing way, this story was reassuring to me. For M. Elaine Moore to achieve that, no matter how personal, is an accomplishment so rare I felt it should be noted.

The ending was totally unexpected--but in my experience of the piece: perfect. I am left wanting to read more from M. Elaine Moore. Two thumbs up.

There is nothing better than hearing that my story brought happiness, or especially comfort to a reader. Thank you for reading and commenting!

Thank you for sharing your own story Martia. My mother was also in a devastating accident when I was just a kid.

The strongest element from this story for me was the tone. You can't help but feel happy-sad after reading it, and I think every good story should leave the reader with an emotion.

 10 months ago 

I couldn't agree more. :-)

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