Discussion Notes: Eminence

Next week’s story is “Amundsen” by Alice Munro.

This podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher and podcatchers. If you can take a few moments to leave an iTunes and/or Stitcher review, it would help us immensely.

On today’s episode, we had a great discussion of “Eminence” by Caroline Casper. For the first time, we found a story we all liked; I’ll try not to let that happen again. I enjoyed how even though we all enjoyed the story, we liked it for different reasons. The messy podcast is on the Youtube page, and the glistening audio version will be available by morning. Don’t forget to check out Caroline Casper’s bio and thoughts here.

Speaking of the Author Spotlight, this is a new blog post series where we will write a post highlighting the author of that week’s story. Look for those posts every Monday.

We do have a rating scale. For the history of this goofy system, see Anais’s post “Read Short Stories or Ray Bradbury Cries.” You gave last week’s story, “The Circular Ruins” by Jorge Luis Borges, 4 Bradberries.

On a scale of 1-6 Bradberries, how do you rate “Eminence”? Tell us in the comments below, and we will give you the final tally on the next episode.

Next week’s story is “Amundsen” by Alice Munro.  This is our first Pulitzer Prize winning author! Alice Munro is widely considered a master of the short story, so we’re pretty excited to read her work for the first time.

We hope you’ll enjoy the story, and join us next week for the discussion. The podcast will be available on iTunes and other podcatchers by Wednesday morning.

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18 comments on Eminence – Caroline Casper – Literary Roadhouse Ep: 4

  1. Maya Goode says:

    Well I can do it again at the 12 year mark and I’m sure it’ll make your parents much relieved lmao!

  2. Douglas Concepcion says:

    I was surprised how there was a general consensus in the podcast in liking this story.

    The story is an easy read, it transitions smoothly from the present to the past, and has pointed interruptions placed by the writer… it snaps you back. I unlike the group could not connect to the main character. I lost my father this past August, and did not experience any of the emotions she shared. Maybe is because she was trying to live in the past, which is something I try desperately to avoid. As my Karate instructor taught me when I was a kid… "Life is this moment right now, you typing on this computer. It’s not the past, because the past we can learn from but cannot change, and it’s not the future, because the future we can prepare for but cannot control".

    Overall I didn’t like the story for the above mentioned reason.

    I give it a two.

    1. You know what would be an interesting experiment? Reading this story 12 years after the loss of a parent. I wonder if the time factor heavily influences whether or not the story resonates. I can imagine the emotions felt the day of the loss, a year, later, 5 years later, and 12 years later are slightly different. Or maybe this is a gendered thing as well. I haven’t lived long enough to now! Haha.

      1. Maya Goode says:

        Well I can do it again at the 12 year mark and I’m sure it’ll make your parents much relieved lmao!

    2. Maya Goode says:

      It would have been interesting with a larger sample size to look for patterns in who liked this story and who didn’t.

  3. mconcepcion says:

    I like French films, my favorite one is "The Intouchables", but in a film there’s more time for character development than in a short story. Many times, the film is more about the characters than the story, and I can appreciate that, but some French movies have often left me like, what…

    That’s how I felt at the end of this story, hence the comparison.

  4. Matthew Limpede says:

    As the editor who chose to publish the story, I’ll refrain from voting, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU for choosing the story and discussing it. I loved the conversation and all of your collective insights and comments. It even makes me a bit giddy that it was the first story to bring your group to a generally positive consensus. Great podcast, great readers. Thanks so much.

    1. Thank you for listening, and for publishing excellent short stories. We’ll be keeping our eye on Carve Magazine for future stories. I went ahead and added the magazine to our resource list as well.

    2. Maya Goode says:

      Good work, the story was a great find and to get all of us to agree lmao… it doesn’t happen often. Even grumpy Gerald wasn’t grumpy!

  5. mconcepcion says:

    3 bradburries from me.

  6. mconcepcion says:

    Great podcast! I enjoyed the disscussion, the story not so much.

    The "telling" of the story was great. I loved all the details, including the "blue grass", but the story did not hook me in. Although there were moments, little gems in the story, I was not able to connect emotionally. The narrative was great, but the story itself did not captured me. The end left me dissatisfied, like a French movie!

    1. Gerald Hornsby says:

      Ha! It’s amazing how people can have differing opinions on the same story. I thought the ending was exactly right, and matched my interpretation of the story, in that the past is behind us, and we shouldn’t try to relive it, other than through our own memories.
      As I said in the podcast, the writing style reminded me of Hemingway (albeit a very female voice contrasted with Hemingway’s very male voice), and his works were my introduction to short literary fiction. So this story was right up my street (which, of course, was why I chose it!)

      1. Maya Goode says:

        I’ll admit it, I’ve never read a Hemingway short. My introduction to short story was a Raymond Carver story assigned by my school. You reference him enough, I’ll have to read some Hemingway since I’ve only read passages from a couple of his novels.

      2. Maya Goode says:

        See, now that’s smart. I pick my stories much more randomly. Since I haven’t read much short fiction it’s easy for me to be all, "never read him before, let’s try that."

    2. I think it’s funny you compare it to a French movie because I did walk away from it feeling as I do when walking away from a stereotypically French movie.

      Perhaps I like that disatisfying feeling in my literature sometimes, because it’s divorced from a real tragedy in my life. I wouldn’t enjoy it if I was the one who found that answering machine tape, damaged and empty.

      1. Maya Goode says:

        Yeah, I had a chuckle because I love those stereotypically languid French films and have spent decades torturing dates with films where good and bad just gave way to lots of confusion and grey. I actually dislike happy endings that feel like they’re there to make the reader happy and adore art that makes me slightly uncomfortable. When I walk away with that uncomfortable feeling, it tends to stick with me longer.

    3. Maya Goode says:

      What I find interesting is the different expectations between literary fiction and the more popular genre’s. In writing course after writing course, I am told to not tell and to show the reader. Yet in Borges, Diaz and Carpenter’s stories, telling was used much more liberally to different effects. In The Cheaters Guide to Love, I felt the telling pulled me away from the story in parts where I wanted to be closer. It lessoned the enjoyment for me. In Eminence, that same distance added to the enjoyment as it mimicked the feeling of distance I had when my own mother died. I felt the same way about the distance mimicking the dream state in Circular Ruins. It was artistically relevant. I look forward to reading more stories and looking at the different ways distance can be used.

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