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."
"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.