About Me

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Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Study notes: The short story

When preparing for PSSC exams it always pays to know at least two short stories so well that you can write about them easily. Alan Paton's 'The Waste Land' is a terrific story to keep in mind because it's so short but also because it's so powerful.
   The story opens with a middle-aged man stepping off a bus at night and sensing fear straight away. His fear is obvious as '...his mouth was already dry, his heart was pounding in his breast...' Fear is something we have all felt and so it's automatic that the reader instantly identifies with this man. The author uses the sound of the young men's approaching feet to raise the tension. The description of the bleak junk-yard setting also raises tension. There is no help for the man here, no chance of escape.
   Paton's describes panting, out-of-breath men so well that you can literally hear them. The reader squirms as the man struggles to silence his ragged breath as he hides from his pursuers. The twist at the climax of the story leaves the reader equally breathless as the tragedy reveals itself. If you haven't read this short story, you are missing out on a classic, one that will forever haunt you.

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