Then a man appears, with his dog, carrying a glass lantern. He offers to tell you stories to pass time while you await another train.
At least there is another train, you think. Heaven help the listener who believes these stories to be true…. The writing is taut, electric as exposed wiring, and conjures an exquisitely vivid sense of dread. It's late. A boy rushes to catch a train, leaping aboard just before it pulls away. Suddenly he realises that it's the wrong train.
He's annoyed of course, but not scared He gets off at the next station, but the platform's empty, and it doesn't look like any station he's seen before. But he's still not scared Then a stranger arrives - someone with stories to help pass the time. Only these aren't any old stories. These are nightmares, and they come with a price to pay Scared yet? You will be. Teens and YA's love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.
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You can read their full reviews by clicking here. He would have been believed. Coming home from so far away, from Germany and the war, he could have got mixed up in his head. In terms of character, we learn more about who Jackson is: a soldier coming home from the war in Germany. But we also learn that he isn't where he's supposed to be. Why is Jackson getting off at the wrong stop? Where is he going? Whom is he deceiving? That shook Jackson up a little but at least it was better than husband and wife. It made him realize how he must have aged and changed over the years, and how the person who had jumped off the train, that skinny nerve-wracked soldier, would not be so recognizable in the man he was now.
This is fascinating in terms of narrative movement. The harm we might have expected to come to Belle has not come to pass. Instead, Jackson and Belle have made a life together, but not as husband and wife. The surprise is in the passage of time and the ordinariness of their existence together; in the hands of a lesser writer, the story might have ended soon after Belle and Jackson's first encounter, with the predictable conclusion that he planned to harm her or steal from her or was otherwise up to no good.
He had of course thought about this, and you would have expected that the prospects of ownership would have brought a sober satisfaction to him, though he would have expressed a truthful and companionable hope that nothing would happen too soon. But no. It all seemed quite to have little to do with him, to be quite far away. Interesting because for a moment, we think perhaps his motive all along was to own the house.
But then, there's that final sentence--"it all seemed quite to have little to do with him. What is fascinating is, this late into the story, we're still wondering what Jackson really wants, what is motivating him. And that question, in many ways, drives the story. It goes agains the advice to make the character's desire first and foremost in the story, but somehow, Munro pulls it off. Then it came to him quite easily, that a person could just not be there. Finally, we understand why he got off at the wrong train station.
We understand what he was avoiding. There is something devastating in this realization--that it was all to avoid being with the woman he had promised him to. But by this time, we already know that she married and had a daughter, that her life continued without him. But we also discover that the daughter she had was his, and that the daughter--his own daughter--was in the apartment recently, and he never paid much attention to her. And an even stranger revelation: he wants to have nothing to do with the woman, Ileane.
On track for some stories set on a train?
So he must move on again. And then finally the revelation about his abusive stepmother: a detail, revealed at the very end of the story, which helps us to better understand why he keeps moving on, why he doesn't "find a wife and settle down.
This is a strange story that ends in a logical place, but not at all where one would expect it to end. The best stories do that: bring us to a place that is unexpected, but logical, with character being revealed up until the last moment. We'll talk about dialogue in depth in a different module, but I wanted to point out the use of indirect dialogue in this passage:. Her father — she called him her daddy — had bought this place just for the summers, she said, and then he decided that they might as well live here all year round.
In this paragraph, we get an unquoted paraphrase of what Belle is saying; this is called indirect dialogue, because it's not being told to us word for word. There is a beautiful moment in the hospital, where Jackson has brought Belle to be seen about her lump:. The nurse took him to sign something before he left. He hesitated where it asked for what relation. Here, if a reader has been wondering what the story is about as I have , it begins to come into focus: it is a story about friendship.
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Or it appears to be. Later, we discover that it is something else: a story about a man fleeing his past, going to great pains to avoid someone to whom he had made promises. Welcome to Fundamentals of Fiction Writing! Let's get started General Questions Discussion Forum. Great Short Stories to Read and Study. Additional Readings for Writers. Coming up with story ideas video Module 1: Characterization. Characterization Overview video Round vs.
Night Train by Thom Jones review – intensity, weirdness and a great ear for idiom
Flat Characters. Characterization Quick Tips. Assignment 1 Characterization : The Character Dossier. Assignment 2 Characterization : Crisis. He wrote three volumes of stories, was published in all the most prestigious US magazines, and won many awards. Like Alice Munro , he was able to pour thoughts and feelings into a small mould and boil them down until they had the complexity of a novel but much more sharpness.
Multiple events occur in a powerful, page contemplation of the meaning of life, including the issues of heritage, upbringing, grief and faith. A Christmas greeting becomes a plan for tj34 to impregnate two women so they can have the children they want.
To Catch a Thief
The plan goes awry in a characteristically Thom Jones way, with many second thoughts and complex depictions of all the characters. And then he goes to Africa many stories in Night Train are about sojourns in far-off locales. Drunk on palm wine by 9 a. I buy a fish, oranges, and a banana at the outdoor market. While the saleswoman bundles my purchase, I drop her baby and momentarily pass out on the road.