Monday, February 07, 2011

Reader's Diary #685- Donna Tartt: A Garter Snake

When I first met my wife-to-be she had a full blown phobia of snakes. It hardly mattered as it was in Newfoundland where there were no snakes at the time, and as long as we avoided the pet store, she was fine. I was fascinated with the idea of a phobia, though. I have fears, just like anyone else. If an unleashed barking rottweiler was running towards me, yes, I'd probably crap my pants. But this makes sense. Hyperventilating over a glimpse of a snake on TV does not. Since we've had kids she's tried her best to control it and keep it to herself, as she doesn't want to pass on her irrational fear, and I'd venture to say that her phobia has been downgraded to a regular old fear at this point.

But I was reminded once again of ophidiophobia this week as I read Donna Tartt's wonderfully written "A Garter Snake." A lot of what makes it great is the character building at the beginning. For those who think short stories can't have fully realized characters, they should read this one. The fact that Tartt takes on young males characters and does it so convincingly is quite an accomplishment.

"A Garter Snake," about two cousins who find themselves reluctantly putting up with one another while staying at their grandmothers, deals with realistic and typical stress of childhood. Tartt makes a pretty convincing case that it's these minor stressors that shape who we come to be as adults.

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


JoAnn said...

I loved Tartt's novel The Secret History, but had no idea she wrote short stories. Will definitely check this out, it sounds great - thanks for the link!

I read more Emile Zola this week:

Teddy Rose said...

I just downloaded "A Garter Snake to read. Thanks for the link and a great review.

It made me think of my childhood. We had Gardner snakes all over the yard in our grade school, in the spring. Every year the boys would run at the girls holding out the snakes in front of them. The girls screams but I always yelled, "let me hold one." LOL!

I reviewed a very familuar one to you, "A Telephone Call."

Anonymous said...

Snake phobia? That's me! I actually also have a phobia of earthworms, but I'm working on it. It is annoying as I love gardening, so I wear gloves and it helps me.
I skipped again this week. Bold me!