Monday, September 14, 2009

Reader's Diary #525- Bruce Holland Rogers: Deconstruction Work

I've been bogged down in Kenneth J. Harvey's Blackstrap Hawco for quite some time now. Weighing in at 829 pages, I began this book over 4 weeks ago and I haven't broke 200 yet. It's not overly difficult, and the story isn't half bad, but I think I have a resistance to books over 500 pages. A 200 page book I'd have finished in half a week-- so I should have finished Harvey's about 2 weeks ago. There's psychologies at play, I tells ya!

So this week, in praise of the concise authors, I've picked a flash fiction piece by Bruce Holland Rogers entitled "Reconstruction Work" available at Flash Fiction Online.

Set in a funeral parlour, I was on edge from the get go. Not that the "mortuary arts" give the heebie-jeebies, but in literature they usually get the same treatment as clowns: evil, demented, and not funny. Plus, necrophilia usually pops up. Did I really want to read that scenario again? I proceeded cautiously.

Fortunately, Rogers doesn't go that route. The funeral director is not presented in a rosy light either (nor would I have believed it if he was, thanks to Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death) but the twistedness is kept to a philosophical minimum. Plus there's an underlying commentary on history versus the truth. A funeral director takes the body of an 80 year old, smooths out her wrinkles, applies make-up and sews her eyelids shut. She now looks 60. You can see how the theme would develop. But there's one more thing.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Barbara Bruederlin said...

What a bizarre little story! I will be forever suspicious of funeral directors now.

Nan said...

Whoa, that is some story! I knew a man once who worked in a funeral home, and one night when he was there all alone, somehow the corpse's hand came down off the table and slapped his back!

My first Short Story Monday entry is here:

Book Club Girl said...

It's a little late, but I did write a Short Story Monday post -- thanks for the inspiration!

Heather said...

Hi John, wanted to stop by during Book Blogger Appreciation and week and let you know that I really enjoy your blog even though I don't partake of it daily. I am reading away at my Canadian authors and loving the challenge. Thanks.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: I think I've been suspcicious ever since I was a boy watching wrestling and the Undertaker was first introduced, with his uber-wierd manager Paul Bearer.

Nan: Yeah, working alone at such a place sort of invites trouble, doesn't it?

Book Club Girl: Glad to have you with us.

Heather: Awww. And thank-you. I enjoy your a lot, too.