This week I re-read a short story by Wendell Berry–“Pray Without Ceasing” in a collection of five stories called Fidelity–and it occurred to me that it was a perfect little microcosm of Wendell Berry’s work. Like the rest of his fiction, it’s set in the hamlet of Port William and peopled by characters with familiar names–Coulter and Catlett and Feltner and Rowanberry. People wrong each other grievously in this story, and yet forgiveness and love and shared commitments carry the day. Berry speaks of Port William as a “membership”: it’s a peculiar use of the word, but if you read “Pray Without Ceasing,” you get it. The Feltners have cause to hate the Coulters, but they are members of a larger body–and, more to the point, members of one another.

A person who’s looking for a brief introduction to Wendell Berry could hardly do better than “Pray Without Ceasing.” It’s not just that it’s a great story; it’s a story that encapsulates how Berry’s fiction does its work on you. You could read this story and know whether you wanted to read his novels (you would, by the way). In a pinch, you could talk pretty intelligently about Berry on the strength of this one story (if, indeed, talking intelligently about books and authors is important to you).

I like finding little distillations of an author’s work…stories that you could plug into the following sentence, “If you want to introduce yourself to [name of author here], you should start by reading [name of short-ish work here].”

Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment is a big chaw at close to 600 close-set pages. But if you were to read Dostoyevsky’s novella Notes from the Underground (112 pages), you’d have a pretty good idea of how Crime and Punishment works. It isn’t nearly as good, but it’s a decent place to start acquainting yourself with Dostoyevsky without committing to Crime and Punishment or Brothers K.

Flannery O’Connor can be a bit of a shock, so I tell people to start with her story “Revelation.” Like so many of O’Connor’s stories, it hinges on an act of violence that leads to a revelation for the main character. But the violence is less extreme than in many of her stories, and the revelation is, I guess you would say, friendlier. “Revelation” is comparatively easy to get, and once you get “Revelation” you can see what O’Connor is doing throughout her oeuvre. Whether you like it or not is another thing altogether.

Conversely, it has always bothered me when A Tale of Two Cities is assigned in English classes. I’ve got no real complaint about the book itself, except that I don’t think you “get” Dickens when you’ve read it. It’s such an outlier in Dickens’ body of work, I hate the thought of it being the only Dickens that many people have read (except A Christmas Carol, which is also unrepresentative, though at least it’s very English in a way that A Tale of Two Cities isn’t).

But I digress. Our APF topic this week is literary microcosms. Pick an author and tell us the shortest work by that author that still conveys the essence of his or her work. And tell us why. For example, “If you want to introduce yourself to Mark Twain, you should start by reading ‘The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.'” Then you might explain how Twain makes literature out of vernacular storytelling traditions, just as he did later in Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

Choose fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. I could imagine somebody making the case that Orthodoxy is the perfect microcosm of Chesterton’s work. What would you say for C.S. Lewis? Shakespeare? I’m looking forward to your answers.

  • Melinda Speece
    12:21 AM, 15 April 2011

    Prop yourself in the middle of the stacks of your local library and find the chapter called “The Buddha’s Smiles” in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s In the First Circle. Here you will get an introduction to his historical insight, scathing commentary, and (somehow) mighty humor in portraying Soviet life (especially prison life). It is a good intro to his fiction and particularly to his three-volume Gulag Archipelago.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    2:39 PM, 15 April 2011

    Thanks, Melinda. This is very helpful. Solzhenitsyn is definitely one of those authors I’ve wanted to read but never knew where to start. I can’t even spell his name.

  • Dan
    2:47 PM, 15 April 2011

    I’m going to go with Robert Frost’s epigram “The Secret Sits,” which reads in its entirety:
    We dance round in a ring and suppose,
    But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

    It’s the essence of Frost’s vision, in my opinion, despite being uncharacteristically devoid of his typical natural landscape. Within all of his best poems, the natural world is hoped by us to contain an answer to our questions, but in Frost’s ultimately bleak (though ultimately not despairing) view of the cosmos, all our efforts result in guesses, suppositions, willful acts of the imagination. But Frost is never one to give up trying, never one to give in to the lure of the woods and resign to our ultimate end, because there is also life and the business of living to get back to. And for Frost, there is at times each other to help us, and there is always some humor to make things palatable.

    He writes in “The Figure a Poem Makes,” “A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. No one can really hold that the ecstasy should be static and stand still in one place. It begins in delight, it inclines to the impulse, it assumes direction with the first line laid down, it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life–not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion.”

    And elsewhere in his letters, he writes of the creative process: “Fortunately too, no forms are more engrossing, gratifying, comforting, staying than those lesser ones we throw off, like vortex rings of smoke, all our individual enterprise and needing nobody’s cooperation: a basket, a letter, a garden, a room, an idea, a picture, a poem. For these we haven’t to get a team together before we can play.”

  • Jonathan Rogers
    3:06 PM, 15 April 2011

    Dan goes the epigram route; strong work. I was proud of my 60-page story that encapsulates Berry. Your entry is barely 60 letters. Those quotations from Frost are fantastic too. I haven’t read his prose at all. From delight to wisdom…I’m going to ponder that in my heart.

  • Joe
    3:07 PM, 15 April 2011

    From the theological realm, N.T. Wright’s _Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship_ is a great way to stick a toe in the water with his writings. In his larger volumes he’s not necessarily writing for the masses anyway, but for those who may have heard about him and aren’t looking for anything too technical, they’ll find treasure here. Bishop Wright’s biblical-theological expertise is displayed in the ways in which he draws the larger narrative themes found in various Gospels and Epistles, and how those themes have bearing upon the Christian life. While easily one of the premier New Testament scholars of our day, N.T. Wright is also a pastor, evidenced in this winsome little book.

  • JJ
    3:11 PM, 15 April 2011

    I’m no expert of C.S. Lewis, but I have read a lot of his fiction (and some of his other works). I would say the best place to start for any first time Lewis reader (for his fiction anyway) would be Out of the Silent Planet. I think that would give any first time Lewis reader a good idea of what to expect from his other fiction, even his non-fiction like Mere Christianity. Some of the dialogue between Ransom and Weston reminds me of the arguments Lewis makes in Mere Christianity, or even The Screwtape Letters (sadly I haven’t finished either of those).
    I guess you could also argue the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but I think Out of the Silent Planet is a better example of how Lewis writes overall.

  • BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck
    3:22 PM, 15 April 2011

    1. Points for using “chaw” to describe Dostoyevsky.
    2. Hang on. I’m thinking.

  • Dan Kulp
    3:56 PM, 15 April 2011

    I have few I’ve read thoroughly enough to take the plunge of recommending a microcosmic piece. I know my share of GKC and agree Orthodoxy covers his theology well; I’d say “Eugenics & Other Evils” is his social-political outlook; “The Ball and the Cross” covers both very well in a fun fiction format and the spitfire debates are tremendous.
    I like “A Letter to American Boys” as a G.MacDonald snippet. Interesting, perplexing and enjoyable in one. Another bonus is it’s 5-ish pages.

    I don’t know the larger cosmos but “What Men Live By” (Tolstoy) was short and very enjoyable and stirred me to add him to the queue.

  • Jess
    4:21 PM, 15 April 2011

    Let’s see. For Edgar Allen Poe, I think “A Tell-Tale Heart” is a perfect example of his work, even though my personal favorite is “The Raven” (both of these are really well known anyway, so I feel like I’m stating the obvious). Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” seems to capture what he’s all about really well.I have a better knowledge of poets, but I have to think for a while to pick the right poems that represent certain poets’ work. Hopefully I will find the perfect ones sooner than next year. 😉

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller
    6:12 PM, 15 April 2011

    Tough question, Dr. Rogers. 😀
    I’ll say Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man And The Sea because I haven’t read any of his short stories. But this short novel reflects his sparse writing style, I think — a style which might explain why we write fiction the way we do today.


  • Dryad
    6:13 PM, 15 April 2011

    The best introduction to G. MacDonald’s fiction–and, perhaps, his entire body of work–would have to be the Golden Key. With theology oozing from every pore, it manages to tell an engaging story with memorable characters in less than twenty pages. (from the Complete Fairy Tales)

  • Charles Atkinson
    7:53 PM, 15 April 2011

    This is very ironic that you’re asking for smaller works that are authentic ambassadors for a larger corpus, because just last night I was making the opposite argument for my beloved author, Ray Bradbury- so now I’m rethinking everything!
    Last evening, my friend cautiously admitted that she did not in fact enjoy Ray Bradbury, something which took a bit of daring to do to my face, since she knows I am a bit of a Bradbury apologist (Bradpologist for short). At first I was astonished, but then when I discovered she was making this judgment after only reading the “Illustrated Man” I quickly understood how she fell into her error.
    I think in order to really appreciate what Bradbury has to offer you have to read one of his developed novels (preferably “Dandelion Wine”, “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, or “Fahrenheit 451”) before, in good judgment, you can let him pass by.

    Bradbury is often pegged as a science fiction writer which, if you do not enjoy, the “Illustrated Man” may understandably turn you away. However, the reason I keep coming back to Bradbury is not for his rockets and creatures and fantastic events but really for the way he brings out the profound struggle and beauty of human relationships. I think this aspect of his craft is best manifested in his longer works (especially those three mentioned above).

    However, if I were to completely abandon this argument and actually participate in Audience Participation Friday I would have to direct people to his short story “The Fog Horn.” Here, you can still experience his word-paintings steeped in an idiosyncratic style that is both sparse and rich. Moreover, as you sit up in the old, remote lighthouse with Johnny and McDunn, isolated, frightened and curious, and witness the terrifying beauty of an ancient beast of the deep, the last of its kind, hopeful that the fog horn’s ghostly groaning is actually the eons-ago-heard sound of a mating call, you are touched by something even older, that all humanity knows: the ache of the one alone, sad, and starved for love.

  • BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck
    7:58 PM, 15 April 2011

    OK, this poem by John Donne.
    (I was madly in love with him once, but things never worked out between us.)

    Here’s why this poem:

    1. It’s written in the Petrarchan rhyme scheme, a favorite of Donne’s. This has always impressed me about him, because that form is so much harder in English than in Italian. However, I like the way it reads much better than the Shakespearean sonnet.

    2. His segue from the octet to the sestet. He’s so adept, I barely notice his attention to big-picture construction.

    3. He mixes the language of romance with theology. One of his trademarks.

    4. Enjambment perfectly wrought. Another Donne trademark. It always makes me want to shout.

    5. How he inverts the first foot “Batter” for emphasis then transitions to iambic for the rest of the line. Music. He’s always doing stuff like that.

    6. Monosyllabic verbs to force emphasis. (I always hear the pulse of Keats’s, “few, sad, last grey hairs” in this somehow.)

    7. His radical metaphors. This is typical of the metaphysical poets, but wholly offensive to folks like Sam Johnson. Personally, I like the jolt.

    Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
    As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
    That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
    Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
    I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
    Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
    Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
    But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
    Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
    But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
    Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
    Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
    Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
    Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

  • sally apokedak
    10:01 PM, 15 April 2011

    {{{Sally, never one to be left out of the fun regardless of whether or not she has anything of value to add, skids into the room just before the closing bell.}}}
    I think The Case of the Missing Slipper is the one Nancy Drew book that really gets to the heart of what Nancy is all about.


    Ha! I have too read a lot of books!

    OK the truth is that I haven’t read many of the great writers.

    I do have some writers I adore and I’ve read a lot of their stuff, but I’ve never stopped to think about the essence of their work. So this question has had me pondering all day. When I think of Lewis I think of a man who is logical and able to mold common clay into visual aids so we can understand heavenly truths. Packer, to my mind, is the man who takes tough things and chews them up and feeds them to me in easily digestible bites. He is also the guy who cuts me with the truth about myself and lays me out in a sinful bloody mess, and then applies the balm of Jesus Christ’s love to heal me and send me on my way rejoicing. Horatius Bonar, I think, writes more winsomely than any other writer ever. And Rogers…from the first time I read him I thought, this guy likes people. He sees their quirks and he finds them entertaining but never in a mean way, always in a “Isn’t it cool that God has made all these interesting people” kind of way. He has a kind of “Isn’t life interesting and entertaining and beautiful?” air about him.

    So if you asked me not which piece best conveys the essence of those writers’ works, but what work shows best what attracts me to them, then I could answer easily:

    Screwtape Letters for Lewis, because it shows so clearly his wonderful grasp of human nature.

    Probably A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom From the Book of Nehemiah for Packer, because he wrote it for pastors and I think he’s a pastor at heart. He’s certainly been a pastor to me, anyway.

    Night of Weeping for Bonar, because it so perfectly displays the winsome content and delivery that captures me in his writing.

    And for Rogers, the short work that shows what I love about his writing would be a blog post: How Stories Do Their Work On Us. I can’t properly explain why I think this sums it up for me, but it has to do with the empathy he has for his characters on the one hand and for his readers on the other.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    11:11 PM, 15 April 2011

    Joe, NT Wright, like Solzhenitsyn, is one I’ve wanted to read but just haven’t dived in. Thanks for providing me with an entry point.
    JJ, I never read Out of the Silent Planet…something I might ought not say out loud around here.

    BuckBuck, I’m glad you noticed ‘chaw.’ Let it be a lesson to you: I just took a cliche (‘a lot to bite off’) and said it in a different, slightly homey way (‘a big chaw’). It’s an old writer’s trick. If I ever write a book about writing, I’ll be sure to include that tip.

    I like your GKC suggestions, Dan K. My exposure to G-Mac is limited, but it does include “Letter to an American Boy;” I like it too.

    Good choice on “Tell-Tale Heart,” Jess. I agree that you can’t get much Poer than that.

    I’ve got a question for Rebecca LuElla Miller: do you think it’s a good thing that Hemingway has shaped the way we write fiction these days? I love The Old Man and the Sea, but some of his short stories are just too spare for my delicate sensibilities.

    Dryad, I’m going to start expanding my aforementioned limited exposure to G MacDonald by taking your advice and reading “The Golden Key.” Thanks for the suggestion.

    Welcome, Charles Atkinson. We need a Bradpologist around here; I for one am almost perfectly ignorant of Ray B’s work. Should I decide to remedy that situation, I know how to begin.

    BuckBuck, I think you’re right: you can’t get any John Donner than “Batter My Heart.” Really, you can’t get any 17th century Metaphysicaler than “Batter My Heart.” Samuel Johnson had some peculiar sensibilities, didn’t he?

    And Sally, you’re a sweetheart for putting me in the list with Lewis, Packer and Horatius Bonar. I shall endeavor to be worthy of it. I love Bonar’s hymns, but I don’t know anything about “Night of Weeping.” Thanks for introducing me to it.

  • BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck
    11:48 PM, 15 April 2011

    “Letter to a Christian Artist.” by H.R. Rookmaaker. He was a Dutch Christian art critic, prof, and scholar. Member of L’Abri with Schaeffer.
    “LtaCA” is an abbreviated version of the themes he expanded upon in _ART Needs No Justification._ and _The Creative Gift: Essays on Art and the Christian Life._

  • luaphacim
    11:52 PM, 15 April 2011

    E. B. White’s “Once More to the Lake” encapsulates some of the most powerful features of his writing: Thoughtful juxtaposition of past and present, civilization and the wild, memory and experience
    Assertions that have the ring of truth but aren’t preachy
    Brief furious wingbeats of eloquent loveliness punctuating his easy, conversational prose
    A careful accretion of concrete facts that convey abstract truth much better than any theoretical discussion could
    Gentle lamentation for what has been lost, while still capturing the wonder of what has not been

    White is one of my favorite essayists, and this essay is a great place to begin an acquaintance with him.

  • BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck
    11:54 PM, 15 April 2011

    BTW: I couldn’t find it online or in print anywhere, so a little while back I typed it all out on my blog from a wrinkled old piece of paper. Here it is, if you are interested.

    _ART Needs No Justification_ can be found online free here:

  • Charles Atkinson
    6:33 PM, 16 April 2011

    Thank you for the welcome! I have been enjoying reading all the posts and comments for several months now before actually commenting myself. This is one of my favorite oases on the Internet landscape- such engaging writing and good humor.
    And the community is palpable – Now (Thank you BuckBuck!) I want to read more of John Donne’s delicious poetry, and (Thank you luaphacim!) I did not know that one of my favorite childhood authors, E.B. White, was an essayist and so now I get to meet him in a new way!

    You have one of the best virtual front porches around town, Mr. Rogers, complete with rocking chairs and familiar faces.


  • […] Their Work on Us”. On Friday he described, in his usual engaging and put-you-at-ease style, why he thought “Pray without Ceasing” is a representative work of Wendell Berry. He then posed to his audience, as part of his regular “Audience Participation Fridays” […]

  • Aaron Roughton
    10:40 PM, 16 April 2011

    I think that a small work that captures the essence of one of my favorite authors, S.D. Smith, was this tweet: “My clone is beside himself with anger.” I found it very readable, to the point, and quite humorous. I don’t even feel like I need to read the rest of his works now, especially after cutting and pasting the tweet. Cutting and pasting gives you an intimacy with words and sentences that just wasn’t possible before the digital age. But I digress. S.D. Smith. He’s awesome.

  • Dryad
    11:32 PM, 16 April 2011

    I believe that the prior post is one of the best introductions to the work of Aaron Roughton. In addition, his autobiographical clerihew gives a good feel for his general body of work:Aaron Roughton
    It rhymes with poutin’
    But that’s not what he’s doing.
    He doesn’t waste time with stewing.

  • BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck
    11:43 PM, 16 April 2011

    Aaron Roughton’s comment makes me happy.

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller
    2:10 AM, 17 April 2011

    I’ve got a question for Rebecca LuElla Miller: do you think it’s a good thing that Hemingway has shaped the way we write fiction these days? I love The Old Man and the Sea, but some of his short stories are just too spare for my delicate sensibilities.
    When i read Old Man And The Sea in high school, I loved it. I felt like I was in the boat beside him. I think that’s something that can be achieved with sparser writing. Go figure.

    I think Hemingway influenced novel writing, but so did movies and TV, so we might be where we are today even without Hemingway ( or perhaps a different Hemingway would have surfaced).

    Do I think it’s better? It’s hard for me to say. I read the classics and some of them I loved (because they were not sparse, or in spite of their more expansive expression?) However, I’m pretty used to the tighter writing of today, the leaner prose, the faster pace. I don’t know that I’d want to go back.

    But I do think there are limits as to how tight a story should be. I’m not a fan of the six word story. 😉


  • Jess
    3:56 PM, 17 April 2011

    Becky: not a fan of the six word story, like the one my little brother wrote yesterday? “There was a monkey. The end.” 😉

  • luaphacim
    4:34 PM, 17 April 2011

    I can think of many stories that would have been better off if they had been limited to six words. 🙂

  • JJ
    5:16 PM, 18 April 2011

    It honestly surprises me to hear how many people haven’t read Out of the Silent Planet (or all of the Space Trilogy for that matter). OotSP and Perelandra (books 1 and 2) are two of my favorite books. Ever. The last book, That Hideous Strength, is about thrice the length (yes I said thrice, probably incorrectly), and a much slower read than the first two books, but they’re all worth reading. The first two are more sci/fi than the last one, but they’re great.
    Even my wife, who is a huge C.S. Lewis fan, hasn’t read them. I need to give her a little nudge. 🙂

  • BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck
    5:54 PM, 18 April 2011

    Agreeing with JJ on the first two books of the Space Trilogy. I didn’t enjoy the third book so much. Perhaps I need to revisit it.

  • Fellow Traveler
    7:44 PM, 18 April 2011

    O. Henry is a veritable treasure trove in this context because he wrote nothing BUT short fiction. Hence, I would say, for O. Henry, buy the complete collection and dive in, anywhere. Then do it again. Then do it again. And make sure you don’t miss any.
    For Lewis, it’s very difficult to choose. However, I believe _Narnia_ was, for its genre, the best thing he ever did. You could do a lot worse than _The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe_. But Lewis was a thinker first and a novelist second. He wrote smashing good novels, but he had not the GREATNESS of Tolkien. I think he was at his best offering imaginative insights into theology. I would say _The Screwtape Letters_ would probably be the perfect starting-point. He always said it was his least favorite and also the easiest to write. It is simply brilliant.

    Shakespeare—tough to say. There are so many great plays and poems to choose from. I think it would really depend on the person to whom I was recommending something. I might be tempted to go with one of his best sonnets. Perhaps “Let me not to the marriage of true minds.” For a play, _Macbeth_ is his briefest, so that could be a good intro.

    Somebody mentioned Hemingway. I was very struck by “Hills Like White Elephants.” If you understand what it is about, you will be moved by it.

    For Joseph Conrad, “Preface to the Nigger of the Narcissus.” It is perhaps the single most striking, most brilliant description of the meaning and beauty of art that I have ever read. I actually have not read much of his stuff, though I think “Heart of Darkness” and “The Lagoon” are brilliant. “The Lagoon” is just incredible psychology, and I think it may even have influenced a story I wrote without my realizing it at the time. But looking back I see a definite similarity. That’s the beauty of great literature—it seeps into you and influences you even when you don’t know it.

    For Dickens, “A Christmas Carol.” His signature style, eminently readable.

    Somebody else mentioned Solzhenitsyn. I’m not familiar with Russian authors, but I recently read _One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich_ and thought it was pretty powerful.

    George MacDonald: I hope this doesn’t seem irreverent to those who know the book, but I think _The Light Princess_ is a hoot! If you’re a bit of a nerd, you will be in hog heaven.

    I might think of more later…

  • JJ
    12:45 AM, 19 April 2011

    BuckBuck: I reread That Hideous Strength last year. The first time I read it I got about 1/3 of the way through and stopped but came back a few months later and finished. On my 2nd read through I decided to try and do it without the break to see if it was more enjoyable. I stopped reading at about the same spot, and started reading it again a few months later. I’m having a similar problem getting through Frank Herbert’s Dune. It’s A LOT of setup of the characters. 40% through it (thanks Kindle) and things are finally heating up. Not that I need action to make a book fun, but sometimes it feels like you can overdo character development.
    The big difference for me though is the pace is completely different. There are some new characters that we’re introduced to and instead of jumping right into the action, we’re shown Mark and Jane living their life and struggling in their marriage. So if you’re into character development, this book has it. A good 3/4 of the book, while having some tense moments, is mostly setup for what happens at the end (like a chess game). It’s not until the end that things start to heat up and feel more like the first two books.

    Loren: I think Perelandra is probably my favorite. You’re right that the imagery is absolutely fantastic. The dialogue is incredibly intense. Ransom became one of my favorite characters in literature after that book, and the villain one of my all time favs (I’m not saying who it is to avoid spoilers).

    I think I’ll read them again this year. Too bad they’re not on Kindle though. Taking the books to the beach the last two years has left their pages and covers a little curly. 🙂

  • sally apokedak
    12:53 AM, 19 April 2011

    I’ve read almost everything Lewis has written except…this will kill some of you…I tried Till We Have Faces, and couldn’t get past chapter two or three, and I read one and half books into The Space Trilogy and gave up.
    Thanks luaphacim for posting the link to Once More at the Lake. It was lovely.

    Loren, thanks for mentioning Montgomery. She is one of my favorite authors but…after I became a Christian some of her stuff bothered me. She is just skewed enough that it makes sense to me that the poor women killed herself. She seemed to take so much joy in man and nature and art and beauty, but seemed to chafe under the idea that we should submit to the holy God who created it all. But, she WAS brilliant and such a joy to read. I did a quick search when you mentioned her to see if I could come up with any short works that would stand as representative and I found that she published 500 short stories and poems. I had no idea. And then I found this site where you can download a lot of her work for free. Man! I love living in the digital age.

  • Loren
    2:12 AM, 19 April 2011

    JJ, I just reread Lewis’ Space Trilogy recently–I’m a big fan of it! I think the imagery of Perelandra is absolutely incredible, especially set against the dialogue. I did a paper on _That Hideous Strength_ in high school (ages ago); it was a good compare/contrast to Huxley’s _Brave New World_.
    Other than that, I’m drawing blanks on literary microcosms–sigh! I’m trying to think of one for L. M. Montgomery…. 🙂 That’s about my brain reading level at the moment!

  • JJ
    6:08 PM, 19 April 2011

    Sally, I couldn’t get through Till We Have Faces either. I got through more of it but never finished. But I shouldn’t be surprised to find someone who didn’t like the Space Trilogy. I had a ton of people rave about Dune as one of the best sci/fi books every written, but (as I think I said before) I’ve had a rough time getting through it.

  • Loren
    7:52 PM, 19 April 2011

    Thanks for the Montgomery site, Sally! I do love so much of her stuff, but at the same time a lot of it bugs me, too 🙂 . And like you, finding out about her life story made some of her work make more sense, but made me sad that she never found the joy one finds in her stories….
    Got through _Till We Have Faces_ a number of years ago, but I think I need to try it again now that I have more life experiences under my belt. I think I would “get it” more now.

  • Dryad
    12:45 AM, 20 April 2011

    _Till We Have Faces_ was a school assignment for me, and by the end I was determined that I was going to understand it. I have now read it four times, and even though I don’t understand it yet, I get more out of it each time. For example, in the last reading I realized that one could draw parallels to the book of Ruth… If Orpah had repented at the end of her life. It’s an ongoing challenge.

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