Monday, August 22, 2011

Reader's Diary #753- Kathleen Winter: Madame Poirier's Dog

-Photo by David Whitten

Thanks to Emeire for bringing the latest edition of the Walrus to my attention recently, and more specifically, the Oulipo inspired summer reading. Five authors were each asked for five guidelines to compose a short story or poem. They traded their lists and the results were published.

Here are Alexi Zentner's requirements for Kathleen Winter's story:

1. You may not describe any characters physically (beyond using “he” or “she” or their given name).

2. Include a peach, but don’t make it sexual.

3. You must have dialogue, but you may not use the word “said” (or any variation of the word “said”).

4. Evoke warmth without mentioning the sun.

5. A dog must bark in the distance, causing a character to state that he or she finds people who treat dogs like children sort of creepy. Somebody else must take offense at this comment.
Had I not enjoyed Winter's story, Zentner's list would have made my day anyway, especially #2 and #5. But Winter's story was wonderful as well. I started to check off the criteria along the way but it was so well done and felt like such a natural part of the story that I almost missed them.

"Madame Poirier's Dog" told from a senior's point of view. She has recently gotten a call from Madame Poirier, an acquaintance from her past, who is soon to be moving into the same senior's home. While Madame Poirier is under the impression the two are close friends, the narrator has no such delusions, and she is somewhat stressed as to how this will affect the life to which she has grown accustomed. She and her son reminisces about Madame Poirier, her husband, and their dog.

Here's the strange part: the narrator is an elderly lady, and yet I don't recall ever coming across a character in a story or novel that reminded me so much of me! I'd probably define us as pragmatic romantics. Yep, I'm an old lady trapped in the body of a 34 year old male.

Identity awareness aside, it's quite an enjoyable story. The ending is a bit vague, but I was enthralled enough in the short time I invested that I hardly noticed.

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


Julie @ Read Handed said...

What a fantastic writing exercise! And I do like that story. An exercise like that sounds fun. Thanks for sharing. If you get a chance, my story today is "I Want to Know Why" by Sherwood Anderson.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That was a delightful story! I loved the details, that were not strictly necessary, but which added so much richness. Strangely, I also found somewhat disturbing similarities among some of the characters to people I know.

Anonymous said...

What a neat idea. I think it's interesting how often I see bits of me in characters, and usually it's not particularly flattering.

I read an Agatha Christie this week.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to read all the stories. What a fun writing project. Today, I reviewed The Woman Who Stole the Rain by Teolinda Gersao

Teddy Rose said...

I have this one on my Kobo and you just put it at the top. Expect a review from me soon. Ya know I always have to get my 2 cents in. LOL!

You already know what I reviewed but I'll leave the link: