Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the assigned reading(s) linked below. Students are to pick ONE interview and ONE writing sample. Extra credit to those who read both interviews, both stories, and post two separate reactions. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.
Click HERE to read the Interview Magazine interview with Karen Russell OR HERE to read her interview with Guernica.
"Ava Wrestles the Alligator" by Karen Russell:
"My sister and I are staying in Grandpa Sawtooth's old house until our
father, Chief Bigtree, gets back from the Mainland. It's our first
summer alone in the swamp. "You girls will be fine," the Chief slurred.
"Feed the gators, don't talk to strangers. Lock the door at night." The
Chief must have forgotten that it's a screen door at Grandpa's — there
is no key, no lock. The old house is a rust-checkered yellow bungalow at
the edge of the wild bird estuary. It has a single, airless room; three
crude, palmetto windows, with mosquito-blackened sills; a tin roof that
hums with the memory of rain. I love it here. Whenever the wind gusts
in off the river, the sky rains leaves and feathers. During mating
season, the bedroom window rattles with the ardor of birds." Click the title to read the rest of the excerpt.
"The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis" by Karen Russell:
"“Hey, you guys,” I swallowed. “Look—” And pointed to the pin oak,
where a boy our age was belted to the trunk. Somebody in blue jeans and a
T-shirt that had faded to the same earthworm color as his hair, a white
boy, doubled over the rope. His hair clung tight as a cap to his scalp,
as if painted on, and his face looked like a brick of sweating cheese.
Gus got to the kid first. “You retards.” His voice was high with relief.
“It’s just a doll.” He punched its stomach. “It’s got straw inside it.”
“It’s a scarecrow!” shrieked Mondo. It was late September, a cool red
season. The scarecrow was hung up on the sunless side of the oak. The
tree was a shaggy pyramid, sixty or seventy feet tall, one of the
“famous” landmarks of Friendship Park; it overlooked a ravine—a split in
the seam of the bedrock, very narrow and deep—that we called “the
Cone.” Way down at the bottom you could see a wet blue dirt with radishy
pink streaks along it, as exotic looking to us as a sea floor." Click the title to read the rest of the story.