22 March 2004

"Cat Lady" by Elise Moser

The latest update to the e-zine Lost Pages includes a story which is a fine example of how careful details and well-crafted prose can make something which is a small, amusing plot into an experience that is fulfilling for a reader.

The story is "Cat Lady by Elise Moser, and I found myself drawn into the tale from some of the earliest sentences:
The building sat, crowding the narrow sidewalk, surrounded by others like it that were equally down-at-heel. In between there were square apartment buildings -- their faces run across with flaking metal balconies binding them like braces -- which had grown into the gaps where other once-proud stone-faced houses had been removed by time or circumstance.
The attention to detail in those sentences, and the attention to the rhythm the words create together, helps an entire world to grow in the reader's mind.

If I say too much here, I'll give away the ending, and it's a fun one. This is a story that could have been little more than a gimmick, a trick, a momentary amusement. While not weighty and profound, it is nevertheless more affecting (and more satisfying) than it would have been were it written simply to push the reader toward the last sentences. Even without the last sentences, this would be an interesting portrait of a character. With the last sentences, it's a little bit more than that...

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