Monday, February 06, 2012

Reader's Diary #800- Maggie Tiojakin: The Long March

Ever protested? I have, just once, back in university. I forget exactly what it was over, something about rising tuition costs I think. I don't even remember if we got what we wanted.

It wasn't the exciting time I hoped it would be. There was no tear gas, no riot police, no protestors being dragged away by the hair. I'm sure the cause, whatever it was, was important to us at the time, but I suspect lots of people were there, like me, to see what this protesting stuff was all about. Isn't it a rite of passage for university students?

"The Long March," by Maggie Tiojakin, is also about a university protest, but it is not Canadian. When Mara states, "I’ve never had to stand up for anything in my life," however, it's a statement many of us could probably make. The protest in "The Long March" is for government reform. "Impeach the president!" they shout. Maybe I still hold some Vancouver hockey riot resentment, but I think of the lack of meaningful protests in Canada: either we have it so good here that we have little to protest or maybe we've just grown too apathetic. "The Long March," shows us that even where protests are needed and have the potential to institute real change, the cynics and protest tourists are not Canadian concepts.

"The Long March" also employs a technique that we don't often see: flash forwards. Instead of flashing back, the story jumps ahead to tell us how the day ends, then goes back to the present. It's a neat little trick that makes us feel more sympathetic to the story's characters.

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


JoAnn said...

The only thing I've protested since college days has been haphazard development that would detract from our village's historic character. This story does sound interesting, especially the flash forward.

I read an Edith Wharton story set in Venice:

Julie @ Read Handed said...

I don't think I've ever formally protested anything, even in college. Maybe has to do with my introversion? I dunno.
I'm back to exploring flash fiction - in fact I'm devoting the whole month of February to it: Flash Fiction February.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm not much of a joiner, so I've never participated in a formal protest either. I'm more of a sit with arms folded shaking my head type of protester.

I'll be reading this though! Love the concept of flash forwards.

Teddy Rose said...

I also was in a protest in college and a demonstration her in Vancouver, a long time ago. Sounds like a worthwhile story.

I'm a day late but here's mine:

Perogyo said...

I like flash forwards in tv shows, I bet I would like it here.

I am a socialist and grew up in Ralph Klein's Alberta, so I've protested pretty much everything. A protest is an interesting feeling, lots of passion you don't see in public even in the west being vented.