Monday, July 07, 2008

Reader's Diary #374- Doris Lessing: Flight

Short Story Monday

When I first introduced Doris Lessing to the Wednesday Compares three weeks ago, I hadn't heard of her before. I found a Times Online article that ranked her, as a post-war British author, above J. R. R. Tolkien. I'm not a huge fan of Tolkien, but I thought it a bit surprising that Lessing would have beaten him. Who had even heard of Lessing? Turns out, everyone else.

Not one to be excluded so easily, I now have at least a short exposure to her work. I searched for something of hers online, and came upon her story "Flight," complete with typos and ridiculous test questions (Oh you poor students of Kettle Thorpe High).

My first Lessing story didn't win me over, unfortunately. While I loved the mood change early in the story, the rest of it-- an almost literal exploration of an old man experiencing empty nest syndrome-- just didn't work for me. There seemed to be so much time taken to work in some obvious and already overdone symbols, that the characters fell to the wayside, becoming one-dimensional caricatures.

But I realize this is but one short story, and not one of her best, I assume. I'll give her another chance...eventually.


Jodie Robson said...

I liked her science fiction, the Canopus in Argos series; they were really different for their time and have been, I think, very influential.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I actually haven't read her short stories, but her African books (Children of Violence series) were amazing, at least they were when I was a young woman discovering my feminisim.