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by Molly Giles

The recipient of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction writes of the missed connections in life and of the "rough translations" of speech and gesture we use to convey what we think and what we want and need from those we love
Download Rough Translations epub
ISBN: 0820315745
ISBN13: 978-0820315744
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Short Stories & Anthologies
Author: Molly Giles
Language: English
Publisher: Univ of Georgia Pr; Reprint edition (August 1, 1993)
Pages: 135 pages
ePUB size: 1379 kb
FB2 size: 1858 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 418
Other Formats: azw docx txt lrf

All her stories are amazing in characters plot, and details.
Fast Lovebird
This collection of short stories (which I stumbled across at the library) thrilled me with its compact portraits, slices of life, and vignettes centered on women's everyday lives deftly told. Some characters are wound up in interior dialogues and flashbacks, some are striving to rescue strained relationships, most are just trying to put one foot in front of the other under trying circumstances.
I especially liked "What do you say?" and "Rough Translations." In the former, a woman and her young daughter are in a coffee shop having lunch, when Mr. Brown, the ex-father-in-law, enters but fails to recognize her, even though he's wearing the wool scarf she knitted for him over 10 years ago. The old man is now widowed and confused as he orders from a stool the counter. Our narrator rehearses all the things she should or would like to say to him, as she is moved by pity as she reflects back on Mr. Brown's once-commanding presence. I won't give away the ending in this 6+ page encounter.
"Rough Translations" concludes the book in a more extended story. Ramona, of un-specified age, is dying and is trying to keep herself together, reconcile her quarreling son and daughter (who have come to "take care of her"), and plan out her own funeral and leave instructions. The whole tale is told with a light touch and a couple of twists of fate.
Some authors are geniuses of plotting, or of lyrical prose, or of biting insights about life, or whatever. In my opinion, Molly Giles' special genius as a writer is in her characters. In these deep, quiet, and intensely moving stories, the characters are complex, beautifully realized, and stunningly real. They are also unusual, odd, different. The word "quirky" comes to mind, but that's far too shallow and easy a word for the people (mostly women) in Giles's stories. Her characters are not shallow or easy or glib.

A description of the plots of many of these stories would sound like typical "women's literary fiction" fare: women in failed and failing marriages, women trapped in unrewarding lives by the demands of child-raising and family life, women struggling to make a place for themselves in the world, uncertain of success, uncertain even of how to go about their struggling. But it's the characters that make these stories, and that keep them from being anything approaching "typical."

There's a lot of humor in this collection, and a lot of pain. As in real life, the two things jostle against one another, sometimes wrestling for the upper hand, other times just living uneasily together in the same person, the same situation. On a scale of "upbeat" to "downbeat," I'd say these stories rarely extend above "guardedly upbeat." But never for an instant do any of them feel resolutely dark. There is hope and spirit and warmth even in the darkest of them.

The final piece in the collection is the "Rough Translations" of the book's title. I think this is truly a remarkable short story, and one that should be far more recognized, lauded, and anthologized than it is. It's a crowning achievement, a Death of Ivan Ilyich for our times. As that comparison indicates, it's one of the most unhappy stories in the book, but (as with Tolstoy's story), it's rich with hope and vitality. It's a story that will stay with me forever, as will the whole of this collection.
The stories were not good enough for me to recommend.