Next week’s story The Veldt by Ray Bradbury

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There are few things as wonderful as discovering a fabulous new author. Who would have thought this weeks episode would turn into a love fest but Bridget Hardy charmed us all. Constance’s Law is a story with many themes as we explore a young woman’s life in a small town after a brutal assault, and the qualities of victimhood and survival. Join us as we discuss just what it was about Constance’s Law that works for all three of us.

Yes, we do have a rating scale based on Bradberries! For the history of this goofy system, see Anais’ post “Read Short Stories or Ray Bradbury Cries.” If you want to design a Bradberry, we’d love to see it. Anais has the urge to create a Bradberry collage… Imagine, Bradberries on your desktop! You gave last week’s story, Tony Takitani by Haruki Murakami, 4.25 Bradberries.

On a scale of 1-6 Bradberries, how do you rate ‘Constance’s Law‘? Tell us in the comments below or via voicemail, and we will give you the final tally on the next episode.

Next week we are reading The Veldt by Ray Bradbury.

14 comments on Constance’s Law – Bridget Hardy – Literary Roadhouse Ep 13

  1. EmergingWriter says:

    I adored this story, even preferring it slightly to Caroline Casper’s “Eminence,” which I also enjoyed. They sure are doing something right over there at Carve Magazine!

    For what it’s worth, I do agree that race needed to be at issue here. I can’t think of another characteristic that would have brought as much tension to the fore with very little of the source of that tension needing to be explained to the reader.

    Like Anais, I also loved how Hardy controlled the flow of information in the story. Even though this is literary fiction, she took a page from the suspense / thriller genre in terms of alerting the reader that more information will follow and then doling that information out in an expertly paced way.

    Keep on writing, Bridget Hardy!

  2. Bridget Hardy says:

    Also, Gerald, will you marry me?

    1. Gerald Hornsby says:

      Of course! Especially since you asked so nicely 🙂

  3. Bridget Hardy says:

    I just found this, and am so pleased. Thank you, LR, for taking up my work, and thanks to all those who commented with so much authenticity and insight.

    1. I am glad you found this. 🙂 We thoroughly enjoyed your brilliant story.

      We write author spotlights on our blog for authors we’ve read. I’d love to write one about you. Do you have an email I can contact you at? If you don’t want it publicly listed, can you contact us through our contact sheet?

    2. Maya Goode says:

      I really enjoyed your piece Bridget and am so glad that you enjoyed the discussion. I was deeply nuanced and was a perfect piece for the LRH. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  4. Maria Concepcion says:

    This story is just like "one of those sad, yet uplifting movies." The way the author is able to achieve this is by giving us different layers. On the first sentence, there’s the first hint, and the hints become more apparent as the story develops. I really enjoyed her style.

    I think the mentioned of color was necessary. Prejudice is not always so "black and white." Both her dad and his mom are not prejudiced, they’re protective of their son and daughter, they don’t want to add "insult to injury." They fear other people’s judgement.

    This is true of most parents, we may not always feel guilty, we know we can’t always protect our children from the evils of this world (even though we wish we could), but we always feel responsible. We always want to find ways to "fix things," or at least make it more bearable and prevent further suffering.

    I love the ending. "I wonder if we will be good enough for each other. And I know in a wretched instant that the worst thing in my life could still be coming. Who holds their mind, or their body, dearer than love, really? It could hurt as bad as anything." There is nothing like love to makes a person feel really vulnarable, and unless you’re willing to be vulnerable you will never experience love in all its capacity.

    3.5 Bradberries

    1. I like your insight into how prejudice may not always read black and white. And "There is nothing like love to makes a person feel really vulnarable, and unless you’re willing to be vulnerable you will never experience love in all its capacity." Preach! 🙂

      1. Maria Concepcion says:

        Haha yes! I have been thinking about the story, and the ending…can I change my rating? I think it really deserves 4.5

  5. Todd Williams says:

    Despite its brutal underpinnings it was a very uplifting story and I really liked all the little moments where Constance realizes she can move on and not let this incident define her life:
    “I feel emotional in every sense of the word—like I could laugh or cry or jump around making loud whooping noises.”
    “I find myself almost perky at the end of it, as if I could in fact be perky”
    And the achingly beautiful:
    “And I know in a wretched instant that the worst thing in my life could still be coming.”
    The feeling of catharsis is almost palpable; the freedom that comes with realizing this could be just one chapter in a life not yet lived. This emotional impact earned it an extra Bradberry for me. It actually brought to mind a favorite quote which I kept in my wallet for years:
    “Strange that some of us, with quick alternative vision, see beyond our infatuations, and even while we rave on the heights, behold the wide plain where our persistent self pauses and awaits us.”
    George Eliot (Middlemarch)
    Having said all that, I found the story itself not so great. I thought the supporting cast were one-dimensional and unconvincing and found the racial angle unnecessary. The rapist and Cal could have both been circus clowns and it would have had the same thematic repercussions to the story being told.
    For me it was more like a made-for-TV movie than literary fiction; no real ambiguity or deep thought required (although that too can be a refreshing change of pace). I think Maya summed it up for me early in the podcast when she said that this story was “not deep enough for this podcast”. I find it really interesting that Gerald considered it “perfect”!
    4 Bradberries for me

    1. Gerald says:

      I think I like enjoying a story, as well as admiring its nuances and underlying messages. For me, this involves plain speaking in the narrative, and a simplicity in the tone. Of course, it helped that it was a ‘real world’ story 😉
      I think the colour issue was essential, and the fact that the secondary characters didn’t overshadow the two main characters. They were there, we understood their relationship to the story, but they didn’t push their way into the narrative.
      But, for me, and the main reason I awarded it such a high mark, was that it was a real story. There was a plot, a theme, and the characters were perfectly drawn. And Constance had a character arc. I look back on this story, and my grading of it, and still can’t find any fault 🙂

    2. I love that George Elliot quote. And I didn’t find most of the supporting characters too thinly crafted, with the exception of of Helen, the success schoolmate Constance meets at Walmart. She did feel very cardboard and unconvincing to me. I had to force myself to believe people that oblivious and insensitive exist. The parents were out of focus, but I believed the fuzzy lines I saw of them, even if I didn’t understand clearly who they are. I guess I don’t need to.

      As for the race issue, I hear you. If you read the story in a vaccum, carved out of our contemporary social context, the link between Cal and the rapist could have been anything. Circus clown, construction workers, curling enthusiasts. Few other comments on race were made. However, I read this story bringing to it everything I have absorbed about race in America, and in that context nothing but race would have served the story as well. I think the story banks on the reader having some context on what blackness looks like to others in a small, predominantly white community.

      I’ve read other short stories that do that, rely to some extent on what they assume their audience carries with them. Some do it better than others.

      1. Todd Williams says:

        That’s a good point about the vaccuum. I guess it would be an additional example of Constance’s strength for her to take on the potential social baggage that comes with loving Cal.
        Being from central Canada, the blackwhite dynamic is almost purely academic for me; in fact the curling enthusiast angle might hit closer to home lol… (we have our own racial issues here, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not such an "every day" thing)

        1. EmergingWriter says:

          Interesting, Todd! I am American and actually know very little about how race plays out in Canada. Thanks for sharing your insights and experience!

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