Blog Post 1: Introductions

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the class blog for English 211, Professor Benzon’s Fiction course! I’m looking forward to a great semester exploring our course material with all of you. We’ll do a lot of interesting things with this blog, but for now, just take a moment to get set up with the blog, introduce yourself, and post some initial thoughts about our first set of readings:

  • First, subscribe to the blog using the form on the front page: enter your email address and click subscribe. You should receive an email with a link that you need to click in order to activate your subscription.
  • Then click on the comments link and leave a message in the field that appears — use this as a chance to say hello and tell us a little bit about yourself, but you should also do some writing and thinking about the three “Extreme Fictions” we’ll discuss on Friday. What seems significant about these texts in terms of how they work as pieces of fiction? How do they resemble and/or differ from what we might conventionally think of as fiction? What alternative possibilities do they pose for what fiction can be? You’re free to critically engage this material in whatever way seems important to you, as long as you ground your discussion in close analysis and citation of at least two of the three texts.

Don’t forget to include your full name in the appropriate box as well so that everyone knows who’s who and I can give you credit for your work. If it’s your first time posting on a WordPress blog, I may have to approve your post manually, so it might not show up immediately when you post it, but don’t worry — it will be there soon enough!

Good luck — let me know if you run into any trouble. See you in class Friday!

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Thursday, September 8th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

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18 thoughts on “Blog Post 1: Introductions

  1. Jessica Pavia
    English 211 Blog Post 1

    When it comes to myself and words, literature has amused and amazed me ever since I was little. I still have my very first short stories that were written in a composition notebook with huge, sprawling letters. Now, I still write in my free time and enjoy reading memoirs, collections of poetry, works of fiction, and consider YA my guilty pleasure — I even had a crisis about turning 18, thinking I could no longer read YA novels without being a “weak reader” and fearing what the “correct” books a woman my age should be reading.
    Lately, what I’ve been most intrigued with when it comes to literature, is the ability of authors to get the gravest reactions out of the fewest words. And the John Barth and Ernest Hemingway pieces showcase just that. The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, is a fictionalized take on the actual lives of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. After reading this novel, I had a great distaste for Hemingway and could no longer look at his poetry the same way; but I also learned that Hemingway struggled with the concept of failure. In this particular short story, there are only six words: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” Readers are left wanting more, wanting solace from what they know is the truth: There has been a miscarriage. There may only be six words in this short story, but that handful causes readers to imagine an entire, heartbreaking life story. Who were these parents? Will they ever have another child? Is the family trying to let go of their ghost child? When it comes to losing a child — as I’ve researched, having no personal experience as an eighteen year old — there’s a sense of failure. The child-bearer can feel like she is less of a woman for not being able to grow a child. And when it comes to failure, it’s human nature to not want to admit it. So, not only does the six words create a multi-dimensional story, it also leaves a taste of absolute embarrassment.
    With Barth’s piece, Frame-Tale, not only does he exercise limited word choice, but the piece needs reader interaction in order for the effect of the story(ies) to succeed. In this way, this short story is perhaps the most powerful one I have ever read. No story, fictional or real, can exist without outside stories. In order for Barth’s short story to exist, the reader has to bring their own life and existence into it. Our stories do not exist alone. His use of the word “began” versus using a word like “told” plays into the idea that in order for a story to exist, other stories had to have already begun. Constantly, we are all intercepting within each other’s lives, developing each other’s stories as we go. Sitting in my window as I write this, the people that pass by are a part of my story and my vantage point. But they exist beyond my story, and have stories of their own. In which I’m the random girl sitting in a window that they may not even know is there. And even without possibly having this knowledge, I am existing in their narrative and somehow affecting what happens. Every human being on this planet is a part of someone else’s story. If it wasn’t for each of us interacting with one another, if it wasn’t for each of us merely existing, no stories could exist. Barth said this in ten words. Just ten.
    The most complex works of literature can be the simplest (however, folding Barth’s piece did cause a bit of a struggle). Despite this notion, there are still literary stereotypes as in the longer the piece, the more difficult or moving it is. And maybe this is just an idea conjured up in my head, but nevertheless there seems to be a new respect for abstract fiction. Or at least a new understanding of the depth fiction can go when readers are present in the story. Fiction cannot be so conventionally defined in length or by “fancy’ word choice, all that matters is the story and the reader.

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  2. Hi everyone! I’m Abby Kolnik, I’m from a suburb right outside of Boston and I’m a freshman. I’m interested in neurobiology and english. Outside of class, I love music, film and fashion. I’d love to get to know everyone in the class and can’t wait to get started.
    After looking over the readings, Ernest Hemingway’s work surprised me the most. When thinking about fiction, novels and narratives come to mind, and the two usually go hand in hand. However, in Hemingway’s six word story, a narrative is portrayed in so few words. This work stood out from not only the other texts, but from the rest of Hemingway’s work as well. Hemingway is known to be one of the greatest American novelists, yet he proves he is able to do so much in only six words of fictional writing. “Problems” by John Updike was, for me, a completely new form of fiction. While my conceptions of fiction definitely do not encapsulate all types, this text seemed to be more of a series of math problems than a fictional narrative. Although it was so unfamiliar, it’s interesting to think that this type of fiction serves a purpose. Narratives and novels cannot hold every reader’s attention, so I assume many readers of The New Yorker found this article extremely captivating. Lastly, the simplicity and whimsicality of “Frame-Tale” was unexpected. I had never thought of a clever play on words as a work of fiction before this text.

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    • Hi Abby!

      I agree that Hemingway’s six-word story stands out and that it is very powerful for only two sentences. I wanted to know what you thought about the text yourself and why it resonated with you? For me, this piece is phenomenal because it drives the reader to feel loss and confusion without any context. The human mind is thirsty for reason and despises ambiguity, therefore Hemingway’s story is interpreted so many times because every reader wants a satisfying answer. I am curious to know what your interpretation is about why the unused baby shoes are being sold? Perhaps you see Hemingway’s words written with depression, like the baby passed away or was miscarried, or perhaps you believe the shoes didn’t fit the child therefore they need to be re-sold. There are so many interpretations to be brought to the table, which is what makes the story so lively.
      As for Updike’s “Problems,” I was wondering what you found interesting about the use of mathematics in the piece, or why the readers of the New Yorker would be more enthralled than the everyday reader? I think that the overcomplicativeness is a message about how humans analyze situations more than they need to and this piece is done humorously by using math for

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  3. Rebekah Clapham

    “Problems” by John Updike, “Frame Tale” by John Barth, and “Untitled” by Ernest Hemingway are significantly different from what I conventionally think of as fiction. When I think of fiction, I think of a long, wordy narrative that usually details the lives of made-up characters. These fictional pieces were not composed that way at all, but ultimately still profoundly interested me. Specifically, I extremely enjoyed Hemingway’s “Untitled” piece. In six words Hemingway was able to convey a powerful story—immediately I started to imagine the family that was selling the baby shoes and began coming up with reasons for why they could be selling them. I was particularly surprised by how imaginative my mind became just by reading this short piece. It helped to highlight the flexibility and powerful creativity of my mind and illuminated the enjoyment that comes from such an experience. I have always believed fiction to be a creative outlet for the writer, but now I realize it can also be (and often is) a creative outlet and form of expression for the reader as well. However, I think it is interesting and important to consider the ways our imagination is constricted by our values, norms, and expectations as well as by what we have learned from society. John Barth’s “Frame Tale” seems to challenge these constrictions to some extent by going against common expectations of how a story should start and proceed. The infinite loop of “once upon a time there was a story that began” not only compels me to question what characterizes a piece of fiction but also makes me consider the millions of different ways a fictional story can go. I think these three “Extreme Fictions” are more significant and are labeled as “extreme” because they require the reader to be more imaginative and creative than they might have to be with other pieces of fiction. These fictions leave a lot up to interpretation and in doing so challenge conventional fiction norms while simultaneously encouraging the reader to become more involved in the creative process.

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    • These pieces definitely challenge fiction norms, however I do not see exactly what interpretation has to do with it. Classic pieces of fiction leave countless phrases up to interpretation for readers to further explore, despite what the author may have originally intended. Many pieces written years ago may be seen with a different meaning now then when they were first created. Yet, “Untitled” by Hemingway and, “Frame Tale” by Barth maintain timeless essences that are specific to their original creation.

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  4. Fictional literature has to do with story telling and all stories have the same spine: a beginning, middle and an end. Though in the selected readings the classic formula is presented in a new twist. John Barth’s, “Frame Tale” puts an interactive twist on this classic formula. Barth directs the reader to construct a Mobius strip out of the line, “Once upon a time there was a story that began,” subsequently breaking the standard format. Barth presents that though the beginning, middle, and end work together towards completing a story, each section is still a whole piece with its own linear storyline and so on. Likewise, Ernest Hemmingway’s flash fiction piece presents this common formula in a different way, stating, “For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn.” In the actual sequence of events leading up a posting, it can be interpreted that Hemmingway is talking about a miscarriage. Therefore, beginning by advertising baby shoes “For Sale,” is actually the end. “Baby Shoes” then follows as the event’s beginning, from the time when they were purchased and believed to have a use, and “Never Worn,” represents the middle indicating the delivery of the unfortunate news. While Barth makes key parts impossible to pinpoint, Hemmingway uses key parts but constructs them in a non-linear fashion (beginning with the end and ending with the middle) that can still be understood and determined by his readers.
    In comparison, John Updike presents the most traditional story format of the selected readings. Yet, Updike incorporates so much useless information that he makes the reader forget the first question, “Problem: Which has he [A] more profoundly betrayed, B or C,” by the time of the last question, “Something feels wrong. What is it?” Updike floods the reader with unimportant information of Laundromats and peastones in order to distract the reader from the greater moral question at hand. However, Updike does this in synchronization with A’s mindset. Overwhelmed with guilt, A distracts himself with an abundance of questions that by the end, even though he can no longer remember his original problem, he is still no happier then in the beginning and only more lost.

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  5. Hello I am Maximillian, but feel free to just say “Max”, it will save you a lot of time. I am interested in a fiction class because I am potentially interested in being a screen writer, I really want to learn a about the nature of creating a character for a story and how a stories message and the events within story relate. Overall I just want to learn more about the nature of fictional storytelling and expand my knowledge of that world.
    I really enjoyed the “Extreme Fictions”, I thought they were an incredibly clever way to communicate large ideas. I am a big fan of films with a small amount of dialogue because I respect when someone is able convey the same amount of ideas in alternative ways and I think that these fictions have something similar going on. With the “Problems” one I would say that by the third problem I knew exactly where the story was going, and I understood how it was going to end, but even so I really liked the way it sort of combined genres of writing to disguise its message, and convey an idea in an unexpected way.

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    • I agree with you, Max, about the way “Extreme Fictions” is a clever way to communicate larger ideas. I mentioned in my post that I feel like when we think of the word narrative, we are often drawn to the idea of a novel or a short story, and we forget that almost anything has a hidden story behind it. I agree with you that movies with fewer dialogues should be applauded for their ability to tell thorough stories in few words, and I think that Hemingway explored that same idea in the work we read, because despite him telling a deeply moving story, he did so in such limited words, yet did not fail to keep his audience entertained, and also emotionally affected.

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  6. Hello all. I am Andrew from Long Island, NY and am looking forward to learning a lot more about fiction. My hobbies are watching baseball and playing tennis. When thinking about fiction, what usually comes to mind for me is a long Stephen King novel such as time traveling back to the Kennedy assassination to prevent. The three readings give one a different perspective of fiction. It never occurred to me that a fiction novel can be six words known as flash fiction. When analyzing Ernest Hemingway’s six-word fiction novel, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” it makes me think about why these baby shoes are being sold and in addition, why were they never worn? Were the wrong size shoes bought that do not fit the baby? Were the baby shoes bought while the mother was still pregnant and a miscarriage occurred? We can think of so many different reasons to why Hemingway wrote these six words, but we ultimately will never know. John Barth’s “once upon a time there was a story that began” makes me think about what type of story will be told. Is it a character’s life story? Can it be a simple story about one’s day at work. It is a very unusual way to introduce the story that will be told but it makes you think what exactly is Barth trying to convey. John Updike’s Problems uses letters and mathematical reasoning to get to the underlying point. In problem 1, a man who is in a relationship with a woman is dreaming about another woman and what she is wearing along with her different features. The other problems throughout the text are explained in the same form. It is a very unconventional way of explaining situations that occur within everyday life but, it does get you to think in a different way.

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  7. Hey Guys! Brendan here. I enjoy listening and making music, as well as writing long rants about my place in society, my insecurities, and my perspective on the world, usually written in the form of bothersome click bait articles.

    As a class we discussed some of the ways we think of fiction, it’s significance, and examples. One of the the ideas discussed was that a work of fiction can encapsulate a world of non-reality, exploring perspectives that may be difficult to understand in the world we live in, usually in a way to address situations and problems of the human experience.
    In “Untitled”, Hemingway employs the idea of a fictional advertisement to comment on the idea of individuality as a part of the human condition. Shoes have a very defining quality to a person. The common phrase, “living in a person’s shoes” refers to the idea of experiencing that person’s life from their own perspective. The idea of “baby shoes”, brings about the idea of taking first steps, and in this context would be the basis of one’s individuality and perspective. Hemingway states in his advertisement, that these shoes have never been worn, and thus the definitive perspective of this individual has never formed. This original owner of the baby shoes is now putting their own definition up “for sale”, unwanted and unused, and can now be taken on by someone else. Hemingway’s fictional sign, could then be interpreted as one personal wasting the potential of themselves, wanting to be defined by something that isn’t themselves, but rather the personality of another, or a comment that humans lack a sense of individuality in general, and that our definitions aren’t distinct to us, and that none of us wear defining “shoes”.
    In “Frame-Tale”, Barth goes beyond the realm of text, leaving the reader instructions to create a physical manifestation of the poems overall theme: infinity. After cutting, twisting, and taping, the reader is left with a paper shape that resembles the infinity sign, and leaves the text to be read in an infinite loop. There is no longer a beginning or end to the words on the page, leaving the reader to decide where to begin their story. This could be a comment on the idea of storytelling, and how from the beginning to end of time there will always be a continuing story. It also relates to the idea, that stories, and in a broader sense, “fiction”, is interpretable, to exactly where they begin, end, and how they’re read goes beyond just the start and the finish of the content of a work.
    Both of these texts lack narrative, and characters, two of the defining features we talked about that a work of fiction could have. This broadens the genre of fiction to be anything in the realm of “not being fact”, or interpretable by the consumer.
    These pieces of extreme fiction blew my mind, and leave me very excited to dig into more content!

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  8. Hello, my name is Jeremy Segall and I am from Westchester, NY, or 45 minutes from NYC. I am a Freshman. Why I have decided to take this course is because, I have an interest in screen writing and film and want to get a better background in how to develop characters of fiction.

    The way I see more conventional fiction is having a very structured narrative that can be easily followed. There is a beginning, rising action, climax, falling action, and finally a resolution. This does not seem to be the case with the three works given though. “Problems” by John Updike, is a peculiar piece that has no real narrative structure and was very confusing at times, which is what the author intended. He says at the end, “Something feels wrong. What is it?”, which does not follow the narrative structure of a conventional piece of fiction. Instead it follows A through all the problems that are occurring and trying to figure them out through mathematical terms and not just explaining his actions through words. But in the end there is no true resolution, to A’s problem which was posed at the beginning of the piece as well as the rest of the piece. He simply lives out his life with B and his kids grow up to become somewhat successful. Other than the quirky narrative and interesting delivery of how the story is set up, at the end of the day it is still a work of fiction, with fictional characters made up to explore the hardships of a relationship like A has with B and C. It says, “Which has he more profoundly betrayed B or C?”. These are fictional characters dealing with humanities problem of who you love versus who would be better for you. Ernest Hemingway’s “Untitled”, gives a different outlook on life in a very short story which leaves the reader questioning much about what they have just read. In 6 words he says, “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”. These words as well do not follow a usual narrative of fiction, because it truly gives the reader no sense of direction of resolution to the problem at hand and stops at the climax of the narrative structure. Beginning, there is something for sale, rising action, a pair of baby shoes, climax, they were never worn. The reader feels a sense of wonderment of why the shoes were never worn, what happened to the baby, and what has the seller experienced. Both of these seem to end with quite a cliffhanger of an ending that leaves the audience to think about what they just read.

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  9. As an introduction, my name is Alix Marello, and I am a sophomore who is trying to declare a self-determined major in screenwriting and playwriting. I sing quite a lot and made a couple of songs over the summer and recorded them on garageband (so professional!). If you want to listen to them, my soundcloud is under Alexandra Elizabeth… be wary of the twangy guitar, I taught myself how to play. Sorry.

    The John Updike story titled “Problems” suggests that we as humans tend to overanalyze situations. The three characters, A, B, and C, see the world through linear and tired eyes, overthinking each occurrence that arises in their lives. For some examples, A debates about who he loves; B, or C, tries to calculate how many drinks he can have before getting a “wet chest,” wants to know how much time he can spend away from laundromat before his clothes are stolen, and questions if he should spend the extra money on a driveway that makes “that delicious crunching sound.” The reasoning behind most of his decisions, which are actually left up to the reader to make (prodding at the idea that we the readers are also over-thinkers), are mainly mathematical, which is humorous because the decisions A is making are so simple yet complicated with his reasoning. The decisions A has to make get exponentially depressing and Updike asks towards the end of the piece, “How long can A go on like this? Round to the nearest week” and “Find the starlike point where A’s brain begins to bend.” The comic attached to the bottom of “Problems” was perfectly paired with the piece, showing a deeply philosophical fish telling another fish, “I’ve been swimming in it all my life, and all I know about it is it’s water.” The existential fish, which should be a mindless animal, is personified to be like a pondering human, which contrasts how a peaceful animal can be turned depressive just by having human thought.
    In relation to Updike’s “Problems,” Hemingway’s ambiguous six-word story sends readers to overthink because humans have the need to rationalize information they do not understand. The text; “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn,” makes the reader quickly conjure up countless reasons as to why someone would post the advertisement. As a reader, we want to rationalize why the baby shoes were never worn, and why the owner wants to sell them. Did the baby pass away? Does the seller need more money? Did the shoes simply not fit? Humans need explanations and tend to fill the emptiness of not having an answer with their imaginations. We come up with theories and try to convince ourselves that the theories are plausible and have a chance of being true. We cannot simply accept the fact that we do not know the answer.
    Fiction is thrilling for readers because authors know how to draw people in by providing unknown information at the beginning (almost all forms of fiction are mysteries, otherwise they would be unexciting) and takes them on a journey through the piece until the answer is revealed at the end, which is satisfying. The example of Updike’s “Problems” exemplifies how humans tend to overthink situations, and Hemingway’s six-word story makes his readers themselves overthink. Though neither pieces reveal a satisfying answer at the end, they exemplify how humans crave to solve problems, and if a problem remains unsolved, humans conjure up their own interpretations so that they can have peace of mind.

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  10. I have always had a great passion for realistic fiction. From a young age I have always loved how for a few hundred pages, I could become a completely different person. I can have thoughts I never would have had otherwise if it weren’t for the words on a page. Or, I can read about thoughts I have every day and take a deep breath at the thought that I am not alone. Children’s and Young Adult Literature saved me and I would like to do the same for others someday. I want to take some part in igniting a love of reading in children.
    In my opinion, I think that one of the most powerful aspects of fiction is that it does not have to be considered or looked at as having a conventional style. Every story comes with its own message or feeling but the way in which an author arrives at this feeling differs immensely— and that is why I think fiction is so powerful. I don’t believe that rules should exist in literature. John Updike’s “Problems,” Barth’s “Frame-Tale” and Hemingway’s work each give us something in return when we read them. It allows us to think and question ourselves and question our world. Sometimes, I even feel like the shortest pieces of fiction are the ones that resinate with its readers the most— which is why I felt a particularly strong admiration for Hemingway’s, “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” Instantly, in just six short words we are able to see characters and a past. Sometimes we don’t need a story given to us directly on a page. Context can be enough for readers to imagine the rest of the story themselves, and it is still considered to be a work of fiction. “Frame-Tale” is similar in the sense that we are able to think for ourselves and interpret what exactly Barth means when he tells us “Once upon a time there was a story that began.” I am instantly able to adapt his words to my own experience. Every reader is able to interpret Barth’s words in their own way.
    John Updike’s piece differs from the other two in terms of structure but similarly in terms of characterization. Updike provides context for the situation the characters are in, but neglects to reveal anything more. In both pieces we do not know exactly how the characters are feeling, but through contextual clues we are able to empathize and come to our best conclusions. An interesting way Updike structures his piece is by intervening with the narrative through asking the reader direct questions such as: “Problem: Which has he more profoundly betrayed, B or C?” It is important to recognize the way Updike establishes the relationship between narrator and reader. By posing questions, Updike is commenting on the way society reacts and responds to problems in life.

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  11. Hi my name is Lily Vidal and I am a freshman at Skidmore. Some of my hobbies include art, dance, and different activities outdoors. Although I plan on majoring in psychology or social work, I have always enjoyed English classes. I am excited to be in this class and have a better understanding of fiction literature!
    I was very surprised when I began reading the three “Extreme Fictions.” All of the texts differ from what I usually think of as fiction. Going off of what we discussed in class and my background in English, novels are what come to mind when I think of fiction. I found it interesting to read Hemingway and Barth because I am always amazed when small pieces of text make me think more than larger pieces of text. Ernest Hemingway’s untitled text was my favorite and left me feeling very curious. I wonder what the background of the story is, who is selling the baby shoes, and why they no longer need the shoes. At first I thought maybe the baby grew out of the shoes but now I’m wondering if the baby is alive or ever was. I found “Problems” by John Updike to be confusing because it was more like a series of math problems than fiction literature. Structuring a story around math is not something I am used to or necessarily enjoy but it is definitely an interesting way to portray literature. All three of the texts work as fiction in different ways and are significant for a variety of reasons. The two shorter texts by Hemingway and Barth are significant to fiction because they make readers realize that a story can be created and told in very few words. John Updike’s story is significant because it uses a unique format to tell a story and ultimately get a message across.

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  12. Hey everybody! My name is Barbara Contin and I am from a city in southern Brazil called Curitiba. In regards to hobbies, I am immensely appreciative of sports- I enjoy watching and playing, and my fondest memories are from either attending sporting events or participating in them. I am also a big fan of television and dedicate much of my time to watching TV shows. Amongst my favorites are Orphan Black, Shameless, Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things. Music is also a great passion of mine, but in a very unconventional way for Skidmore: I don’t play or sing. When I listen to songs, I am extremely driven to pair them to a person I know in real life. This habit of mine makes it so that listening to music is almost a social event- I am always reminded of a person who has, in one way or another, moved me. This is often times how I deal with homesickness: I listen to Stevie Wonder, Talking Heads or The Smiths to be reminded of my parents.

    Now, in reference to the reading that was required for the class on Friday, I was a big fan. When we hear “fiction” as a genre, we are conditioned to think of novels or short stories that have clearly outlined characters, plots, and storylines. We forget that narratives can be told in unconventional ways, and can still be considered works of literary fiction. I was particularly moved by Hemingway’s work, that in so few words, told such a heartbreaking story. It’s crazy that with so little information, he was able to grasp the reader so intensely, to the point that I felt affected by the narrative long after I was done reading the passage. I even took it a step further and showed it to my friend, because I wanted someone discuss the work that had been presented to me. Updike’s “Problems”, differed from Hemingway, in that he was not brief in his words, but preferred lengthy explanations to a concept he was trying to present to his readers. Updike’s words carried less meaning than Hemingway, but the first still succeeded in presenting a narrative in a very unconventional way. Despite my fondness for the conventional types of storytelling, I can’t deny that these three works of “Extreme Fiction” were deeply captivated and kept me incredibly engaged.

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  13. Hi! I’m Natalie and I’m a junior from philly! I have always loved reading and writing and English has always been a strong suit for me. I’ve really enjoyed all of the literature courses I’ve taken at Skidmore, and I’m just as excited for this one! I love fiction and I think it’s so widely appealing in its seductive and transformative abilities to provide an escape for the reader.
    I liked Updike’s transparent way of relating human situations to the reader without elaborate character descriptions. The reader can still understand the characters’ problems without any personal/ sympathy-inducing details. Each paragraph is like a moral puzzle with many different answers. They’re funny in the way they make situations seem like a math problem, because wouldn’t it be so easy if there was one precise answer to all of our human dilemmas?
    Barth’s cyclical story was kind of profound for me because of the visual it provided. After connected the ends of the paper, I turned the paper ring around and read it quite a few times, almost expecting to read something different each time.
    Hemingway’s very short story really just made me think about all the possibilities of context behind it. Some are sad but some don’t have to be.

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  14. Hey everybody! My name is Barbara Contin and I am from a city in southern Brazil called Curitiba. In regards to hobbies, I am immensely appreciative of sports- I enjoy watching and playing, and my fondest memories are from either attending sporting events or participating in them. I am also a big fan of television and dedicate much of my time to watching TV shows. Amongst my favorites are Orphan Black, Shameless, Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things. Music is also a great passion of mine, but in a very unconventional way for Skidmore: I don’t play or sing. When I listen to songs, I am extremely driven to pair them to a person I know in real life. This habit of mine makes it so that listening to music is almost a social event- I am always reminded of a person who has, in one way or another, moved me. This is often times how I deal with homesickness: I listen to Stevie Wonder, Talking Heads or The Smiths to be reminded of my parents.

    Now, in reference to the reading that was required for the class on Friday, I was a big fan. When we hear “fiction” as a genre, we are conditioned to think of novels or short stories that have clearly outlined characters, plots, and storylines. We forget that narratives can be told in unconventional ways, and can still be considered works of literary fiction. I was particularly moved by Hemingway’s work, that in so few words, told such a heartbreaking story. It’s crazy that with so little information, he was able to grasp the reader so intensely, to the point that I felt affected by the narrative long after I was done reading the passage. I even took it a step further and showed it to my friend, because I wanted someone discuss the work that had been presented to me. Updike’s “Problems”, differed from Hemingway, in that he was not brief in his words, but preferred lengthy explanations to a concept he was trying to present to his readers. Updike’s words carried less meaning than Hemingway, but the first still succeeded in presenting a narrative in a very unconventional way. Despite my fondness for the conventional types of storytelling, I can’t deny that these three works of “Extreme Fiction” were deeply captivated and kept me incredibly engaged.

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  15. Hey my name is Maurice Maxwell and I’m from Brooklyn,NY. I like playing basketball for fun, hanging out with friends and playing NBA 2k. I also like watching sports and getting to know new people. I’m a HEOP student and was here for 5 weeks during the summer academically and socially getting prepared for college.
    Regarding the readings, I thought it was an interesting how Updike puts peoples problems very vaguely in order to explain how everyone actually goes through these problems by using letters instead of peoples names to communicate common “problems” that occur. This can be classified as fiction because it takes an alternative turn on how to identify certain problems using logic and math without explicitly saying that these are occurring almost everyday.And in “Frame Tale” Barth talks about new beginnings and how a story can happen within a short period of time which is inspirational to someone who is going to rejuvenate their life.

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