Next week’s story is Cathedral by Raymond Carver

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Rated Explicit: Story contains mention of brothel, no cursing or explicit language but a kid might ask what a brothel is.

Oh, we didn’t seem to agree on anything this week. Anais had serious issues with Safe, Somewhere. Gerald liked it a great deal and Maya was head over heels in love with the story. The funny thing was, even though Gerald and Maya liked it, they saw many parts very differently. This story of a small one-company town was eye opening and fun to discuss.

Don’t forget, to rate the story! For the history of our 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.

Listeners gave last week’s story “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” by Amy Hempel 4.5 Bradberries.

So tell us, on a scale of 1-6 Bradberries, how do you rate “Safe, Somewhere”? Tell us in the comments below or via voicemail, and we will give the final tally on the next episode.

Next week’s story is Cathedral by Raymond Carver

4 comments on Safe, Somewhere – Baird Harper – Literary Roadhouse Ep 24

  1. Todd Williams says:

    I live in a smaller city and work onsite at a steel mill and there are many second and third generation steel worker families around. I could easily relate to the characters in the story and, while I don’t think the author comes from this background, he did very well at evoking it along with the male personality (any and all situations in life have the potential to become a Penthouse letter so keep your cowlick in check) and corporate accountability (safety is #1 until it affects the bottom line).

    The story had some fantastic visuals (that cat dying on the lawn!) and moved along at a great pace. It felt much more cinematic than most "literary" stories and any deeper meanings were presented in a fairly obvious manner; for example I doubt anyone was surprised when the sister turned out to be the prostitute, but the setup was nice. The story actually reminded me of Stephen King’s style -folksy, emotionally accurate- but also largely dependent on the reader’s ability to relate to the characters.

    I enjoyed the story quite a bit but think it is skirting the line of what I consider "literary".
    I’m going to ignore that for my score though:

    4.5 Bradberries

    1. "But also largely dependent on the reader’s ability to relate to the characters."

      This resonates as very true for me. At the end of the day, I just couldn’t identify with this reaction to calamity. I could in the sense that you keep moving, you hyper focus on one thing, and latch onto that. At the risk of sounding like Giuliani, I remember 9/11, I was there. 😉

      But jokes aside, the towers were visible from my classroom, my father worked at the WTC at the time, and the phone towers fell so we couldn’t get in contact with him to learn of his fate. (He’s alive and well, but what a story! For another time.) And I remember distinctly hyper focusing on a few things. That ran true for me in this story. What didn’t ring true was the voice, as I mentioned, that calm, cool approach. It isn’t that I spent 9/11 screaming and crying, not at all, but there was this tense hum in my chest as I went about doing things, singularly focused. I think the absence of that hum is what made me scratch my head and shrug. "This doesn’t seem real."

      Which is also, on its face, okay. We learn of other people’s reactions and perspectives through literature, but those points of view need to be convincing if they are not relatable. I guess it just wasn’t convincing for me in this case.

  2. mconcepcion says:

    I liked the narrative in this story. In contrast with the Jack London story I was able to empathy with the characters. I am not familiar with this type of town or lifestyle and even so I was right there with them. This is a sign of masterful story telling, but I’m going to give this story just a 3 because it was not memorable. It’s not the type of story that would have me thinking about it for days, or I would recommend other people to read.

    1. Gerald Hornsby says:

      Wow. Only 3? #harsh 😉

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