Monday, June 29, 2009

"Rosa", from The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick


A couple of months ago, Lezlie at Books 'N Border Collies wrote a review of The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick.  The book consists of a very short story, "The Shawl", and an extended story (novella?) entitled "Rosa".  I found "The Shawl" in a short story collection I own and wrote about it for a previous Short Story Monday.  It was a very bleak, violent story about a Nazi concentration camp.  While very well written, it was not at all fun to read.

I decided to read "Rosa" after Lezlie assured me it wasn't as harsh and, in some ways, tempered "The Shawl".  It picks up thirty years later with Rosa, "a madwoman and a scavenger", living in 
a Miami hotel. Rosa has literally destroyed the junk shop she ran in New York and is being supported by her niece, Stella, who also spent time in the concentration camp.  Rosa, understandably, has never recovered from her experience.  In one of the most memorable scenes,  Rosa is talking to a man she met at the laundromat and says,

"...in America, cats have nine lives, but we - we're less than cats, so we got three.  The life before, the life during, the life after... The life after is now.  The life before is our real life, at home, where we was born."
"And during?"
"This was Hitler."   (page 58)

While "Rosa" was nowhere near as horrifying as "The Shawl", it was not a light read.  There is, however, a redeeming glimmer of hope at the end.

Last winter, while browsing at Barnes and Noble, I read the first few pages of Heir to the Glimmering World .  The writing was captivating, and I had to purchase it immediately. (I look forward to reading it very soon.)  The Shawl seems to be written in a slightly different style, perhaps one more appropriate to the subject matter, but still just as engaging.  Ozick is a wonderfully talented writer. 

To see who else has a short story post this week, or to share one of your own, visit John at The Book Mine Set.
 

7 comments:

  1. I *loved* that "glimmer of hope at the end". That was the part that I thought made it so beautiful and less depressing than "The Shawl". Now I want to know what happened later! I picture a version of "happily ever after" where she learns to if not "accept" the truth, and least to go on.

    Lezlie

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lezlie,
    That glimmer is what made the whole thing worthwhile! Without it, it would have been just too depressing. I love your vision of Rosa moving forward.

    ReplyDelete
  3. These sound like some really tough stories to get through. I have only read a few collections of short stories. Overall, I really enjoyed the experience and am always looking for others to add to my list.

    ReplyDelete
  4. After you posted about The Shawl, I mustered up to read Cynthia Ozick and find her works very intense. It's more depressing than Schlinder's List and The Reader, or most titles in the subject. It reminds me of The Auschwitz, the memoir.

    ReplyDelete
  5. After you posted about The Shawl, I mustered up to read Cynthia Ozick and find her works very intense. It's more depressing than Schlinder's List and The Reader, or most titles in the subject. It reminds me of The Auschwitz, the memoir.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Even though books about concentration camps are unbearably sad to read I always think of the people who endured it. It's the least I can do, to suffer in feelings is no hardship compared to theirs. The books you mentioned sound like gripping reads JoAnn.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Staci - I wasn't a short story reader at all until earlier this year. My daughter finished an anthology for a class and gave it to me. I started reading a few stories and was hooked!

    Matt - Intense is the perfect work to describe this. I'm really looking forward to her novel. It'll be interesting to see how it compares.

    Darlene - That's a great way to think about these books and stories. I will remember that the next time I read something dealing with this difficult subject!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails