Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Spoon River Anthology (1).

Edgar Lee Masters. New York: Collier Books. A Division of Macmillan Publishers Co. 1915.

Why read it? Epitaphs in poetic form. Concise. Cryptic. Subtle. Often bitter. From the grave, the characters summarize their lives. Each poem is a potential short story.

“Hod Putt.” Two kinds of bankruptcy. One is legal. One is not. The bankrupt millionaire and the killer robber lie side by side. p. 25.

“Ollie McGee.” Marriage. The callous husband who ruined her joy and her looks. And now he regrets the loss of her good looks as he has lost his and she is avenged. p. 26.

“Fletcher McGee.” Marriage. The husband’s point of view. Control of her life. Manipulated his wife. The battle to control his wife’s soul. p. 27.

Robert Fulton Tanner.” Success. Life’s bait. Once in the cage nibbling the cheese of success, misery until Life is bored with watching him. p. 28.

“Cassius Hueffer.” The empty words of the epitaph–maker vs. the real epitaph of his life: “…he made warfare on life….” p. 29.

Serepta Mason.” People saw only the one side of her, the stunted side. “My flowering side you never saw.” p. 30.

“Amanda Barker” Marriage: bitterness at childbirth. Her husband knew she could not bring forth a child without giving up her own life! Henry’s apparent love was actually hatred. p. 31.

“Constance Hately”: Apparent benefactor poisoned her sacrifice by constantly reminding her dependents of their dependence on her. p. 32.

“Chase Henry”: In life, the town drunkard. In death, the equal of the respected town banker and his wife. p. 33.

“Henry Carey Goodhue”: The man who has fought injustice of every kind—gets his idealistic revenge—he helps to legislate prohibition, affecting every businessman whom he has fought and to whom he has lost. p. 34.

To be continued.

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