Nigel Gordon

Outside In by Bi Janus

This, I must say, is not the easiest story to read. At times you find yourself wondering where it is going but where it is going is well worth finding out. To say more would be to give too much away so I won't except to say read it, it is worth the effort.

http://www.awesomedude.com/bi_janus/short_stories/outside_in.htm

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Read it. Interesting and have no complaints. I'll read it again to get my head around it more.

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A wonderful, well crafted story, Bi Janus. A mature look at all things past and how life unfolds as we grow. The subject matter is brutally honest and makes the reader wish it wasn't so. Those of us who have reached a certain age can remember those times and now wonder why it was necessary. Good story, everyone should read it just to remind us of how far we have come, and how much further we need to go.

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I liked it, too. My only criticism (and it's a small one) is that I think the scene between the narrator and his friend Settle would've been better if done through dialogue. Too much "tell" and not enough "show" for me.

But I agree, it's a powerful story with the ring of truth.

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On 1/11/2014 at 7:24 AM, Chris James said:

A wonderful, well crafted story, Bi Janus. A mature look at all things past and how life unfolds as we grow. The subject matter is brutally honest and makes the reader wish it wasn't so. Those of us who have reached a certain age can remember those times and now wonder why it was necessary. Good story, everyone should read it just to remind us of how far we have come, and how much further we need to go.

I enjoyed this story on several levels: First, as Chris has noted, the craftsmanship—and specifically the use of gasoline prices to frame a history that is familiar to some of us—evokes in me the same sort of admiration that I have for any demonstration of great skill.  And I appreciate BiJanus's contribution to my often deficient education (since, I am almost ashamed to admit, I have not yet read Giovanni's Room). Most important, though, the story contributes to my sense of well-being as I reflect on what is right in the world: nurturing parents, supportive teachers, courageous pioneers who have paved our way.

I read the story a few years ago and am delighted to see it featured on this month's AD home page. It's well worth re-reading.  Thanks to both BiJanus and The Dude, for providing the opportunity.

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On 1/11/2014 at 10:12 PM, The Pecman said:

I liked it, too. My only criticism (and it's a small one) is that I think the scene between the narrator and his friend Settle would've been better if done through dialogue. Too much "tell" and not enough "show" for me.

But I agree, it's a powerful story with the ring of truth.

The "show, don't tell" rule is generally useful: I wish I were a lot better at applying it. In this short story, however, Richard's relationship with Settle was primarily important as background: more showing might have slowed things down too much.  In contrast, the scene at Joseph's house ("Come in. Sit down and take a breath. I see that Brother Baldwin made an impression." I sat on the plain couch, almost vibrating. "Now, what do you think I think?") invites me to slow down and reflect on the many levels in which these few sentences capture the essence of the story.

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On 1/6/2018 at 1:18 PM, PeterSJC said:

The "show, don't tell" rule is generally useful: I wish I were a lot better at applying it. In this short story, however, Richard's relationship with Settle was primarily important as background: more showing might have slowed things down too much.  In contrast, the scene at Joseph's house ("Come in. Sit down and take a breath. I see that Brother Baldwin made an impression." I sat on the plain couch, almost vibrating. "Now, what do you think I think?") invites me to slow down and reflect on the many levels in which these few sentences capture the essence of the story.

Peter, I agree with your comment about James Baldwin and your conclusion that it's what Outside In is about. The essential dialogue is that between Richard and his mother and between Richard and Joseph Freeman. Bi Janus has put us in Richard's head and we're reading what he's thinking and seeing how it's shaping his life.

This is a powerful story that I'll reread and remember. Bravo, Bi Janus!

Colin :icon_geek:

 

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Many thanks for your kindnesses, both to those who read the story originally and to those reconsidering it. And, thanks to the Dude for featuring it. Elements of the story are, alas, autobiographical.

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