miércoles, 4 de diciembre de 2013

Homework: Write your own Slice of Life

Deadline for a first draft: Dec 10
Corrections: Dec 13
Definitive version: Dec 17

Read your classmates' stories over the Christmas Holidays. We'll discuss them the first day of class. 

lunes, 25 de noviembre de 2013

martes, 22 de octubre de 2013

Next Reading Assignment: Hills Like White Elephants

Read the short story "Hills like White Elephants" and answer the following questions. We'll discuss the story on Nov 5
1.- Where and when does the story take place?
2.- Could you describe the characters?  
3.- What is the story about? Does it have a plot?
4.- How would you describe the style in which the story is written?  
5.- A “white elephant”, apart from its literal meaning, is an idiom which refers to something considered as a waste of money, something that requires much care but provides little profit, such as a very expensive train line or a very expensive and under-used cultural complex. By extension, it is something of little or no value. Why do you think the writer chose this title?
6.- Who do you think wrote this story? Why?

The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. The American and the girl with him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building. It was very hot and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went to Madrid.
'What should we drink?' the girl asked. She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.
'It's pretty hot,' the man said.
'Let's drink beer.'
'Dos cervezas,' the man said into the curtain.
'Big ones?' a woman asked from the doorway.
'Yes. Two big ones.'
The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glass on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.
'They look like white elephants,' she said.
'I've never seen one,' the man drank his beer.
'No, you wouldn't have.'
'I might have,' the man said. 'Just because you say I wouldn't have doesn't prove anything.'
The girl looked at the bead curtain. 'They've painted something on it,' she said. 'What does it say?'
'Anis del Toro. It's a drink.'
'Could we try it?'
The man called 'Listen' through the curtain. The woman came out from the bar.
'Four reales.' 'We want two Anis del Toro.'
'With water?'
'Do you want it with water?'
'I don't know,' the girl said. 'Is it good with water?'
'It's all right.'
'You want them with water?' asked the woman.
'Yes, with water.'
'It tastes like liquorice,' the girl said and put the glass down.
'That's the way with everything.'
'Yes,' said the girl. 'Everything tastes of liquorice. Especially all the things you've waited so long for, like absinthe.'
'Oh, cut it out.'
'You started it,' the girl said. 'I was being amused. I was having a fine time.'
'Well, let's try and have a fine time.'
'All right. I was trying. I said the mountains looked like white elephants. Wasn't that bright?'
'That was bright.'
'I wanted to try this new drink. That's all we do, isn't it - look at things and try new drinks?'
'I guess so.'
The girl looked across at the hills.
'They're lovely hills,' she said. 'They don't really look like white elephants. I just meant the colouring of their skin through the trees.'
'Should we have another drink?'
'All right.'
The warm wind blew the bead curtain against the table.
'The beer's nice and cool,' the man said.
'It's lovely,' the girl said.
'It's really an awfully simple operation, Jig,' the man said. 'It's not really an operation at all.'
The girl looked at the ground the table legs rested on.
'I know you wouldn't mind it, Jig. It's really not anything. It's just to let the air in.'
The girl did not say anything.
'I'll go with you and I'll stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it's all perfectly natural.'
'Then what will we do afterwards?'
'We'll be fine afterwards. Just like we were before.'
'What makes you think so?'
'That's the only thing that bothers us. It's the only thing that's made us unhappy.'
The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of beads.
'And you think then we'll be all right and be happy.'
'I know we will. Yon don't have to be afraid. I've known lots of people that have done it.'
'So have I,' said the girl. 'And afterwards they were all so happy.'
'Well,' the man said, 'if you don't want to you don't have to. I wouldn't have you do it if you didn't want to. But I know it's perfectly simple.'
'And you really want to?'
'I think it's the best thing to do. But I don't want you to do it if you don't really want to.'
'And if I do it you'll be happy and things will be like they were and you'll love me?'
'I love you now. You know I love you.'
'I know. But if I do it, then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants, and you'll like it?'
'I'll love it. I love it now but I just can't think about it. You know how I get when I worry.'
'If I do it you won't ever worry?'
'I won't worry about that because it's perfectly simple.'
'Then I'll do it. Because I don't care about me.'
'What do you mean?'
'I don't care about me.'
'Well, I care about you.'
'Oh, yes. But I don't care about me. And I'll do it and then everything will be fine.'
'I don't want you to do it if you feel that way.'
The girl stood up and walked to the end of the station. Across, on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees.
'And we could have all this,' she said. 'And we could have everything and every day we make it more impossible.'
'What did you say?'
'I said we could have everything.'
'No, we can't.'
'We can have the whole world.'
'No, we can't.'
'We can go everywhere.'
'No, we can't. It isn't ours any more.'
'It's ours.'
'No, it isn't. And once they take it away, you never get it back.'
'But they haven't taken it away.'
'We'll wait and see.'
'Come on back in the shade,' he said. 'You mustn't feel that way.'
'I don't feel any way,' the girl said. 'I just know things.'
'I don't want you to do anything that you don't want to do -'
'Nor that isn't good for me,' she said. 'I know. Could we have another beer?'
'All right. But you've got to realize - '
'I realize,' the girl said. 'Can't we maybe stop talking?'
They sat down at the table and the girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and the man looked at her and at the table.
'You've got to realize,' he said, ' that I don't want you to do it if you don't want to. I'm perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you.'
'Doesn't it mean anything to you? We could get along.'
'Of course it does. But I don't want anybody but you. I don't want anyone else. And I know it's perfectly simple.'
'Yes, you know it's perfectly simple.'
'It's all right for you to say that, but I do know it.'
'Would you do something for me now?'
'I'd do anything for you.'
'Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?'
He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights.
'But I don't want you to,' he said, 'I don't care anything about it.'
'I'll scream,' the girl siad.
The woman came out through the curtains with two glasses of beer and put them down on the damp felt pads. 'The train comes in five minutes,' she said.
'What did she say?' asked the girl.
'That the train is coming in five minutes.'
The girl smiled brightly at the woman, to thank her.
'I'd better take the bags over to the other side of the station,' the man said. She smiled at him.
'All right. Then come back and we'll finish the beer.'
He picked up the two heavy bags and carried them around the station to the other tracks. He looked up the tracks but could not see the train. Coming back, he walked through the bar-room, where people waiting for the train were drinking. He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at the people. They were all waiting reasonably for the train. He went out through the bead curtain. She was sitting at the table and smiled at him.
'Do you feel better?' he asked.
'I feel fine,' she said. 'There's nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.'

martes, 27 de noviembre de 2012


Julia Vasileva THE LIE

She was waiting for this meeting for five long months, since they had met by Internet. She was really charmed by him, dreaming about long romantic walking… 
- Hello, Steve!
- Hi, Mary, you are so beautiful… Will you help me?
She nodded and turned round his wheelchair towards the park…

REVENGE IS SWEET (Bruno Revenga)

May was a womanizer bee. One day, he was flitting from one flower to another. Suddenly, a clever woman tried to hit him but fortunately he escaped. The beehive plotted to sting her but she spread her house with honey and the bees died stuck. ‘Revenge is sweet’ she laughed.
Mónica Martínez Medina NEVER AGAIN

Robert was frustrated because his son never obeyed him. He always had to remind him to do his homework and to pick up the car toys of the bedroom. ‘Why is the car rolling by the ground? Robert left from his home urgently. He had forgotten to put the handbrake!

sidahmed mohamed THE LIE:

Mr. Kiwi went out like every morning to give his morning walk. When he came to the corner of the fruit shop, unfortunately he saw a poster that said: "missing kiwi"; the photo coincided with his aspect. Mr. Kiwi was really astonished. When he entered to ask for explanations, everyone started laughing. 


I thought that my honeymoon was going to be the most wonderful holiday that I had ever had. My mother in law paid us a romantic holiday in Venice; it would be fantastic. However, when we arrived there, my parents in law were there too. It was a surprise, how lucky I was! 
A HOLIDAY ROMANCE by Jeremy Espino

• Hello Peter, How was your vacation?
• Oh so good, this was the best vacation of my life, I met the ideal woman: pretty, intelligent and lovely, she is perfect.
• Oh I am glad for you.
• But there is a problem, I can´t either call her or look for her.
• why not?
• I met her in summer, It was only a holiday romance. This is the law.

Marina Trujillano NEVER AGAIN

I had been choking deservedly, so after long minutes picking my nose desperately, I squashed and pressed with my thumb and my forefinger (from my left hand) a gelatinous snot, an obstacle for my breathing; nevertheless, I did ont taste it at all, but I could finally breathe again.

viernes, 23 de noviembre de 2012



Screege had always hated Christmas. The Spirit of Past and Present Christmas appeared and tried to make him change. But he still hated Christmas. However, when the Spirit of Future Christmas showed him the future, he quickly changed his mind. He bought shares of shopping malls. Now he loves Christmas.

martes, 16 de octubre de 2012


"Smoke" is the film based on "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story" which you will be watching on Friday. You'll have to answer these questions after watching it:
- What are the differences between the film and the story? What has been added (or deleted)?
- Are the characters represented as you had imagined them?
- Is Auggie's photo project as you had imagined it?
- Do you think Auggie's story is true or a lie?
- Do you like the re-telling of Auggie's story in black and white at the end of the film? (you can read my questions to Paul Auster and his answers here:  http://issuu.com/jagonzal/docs/lfq_happy_accidents)

viernes, 28 de septiembre de 2012

Reading Assignment: Auggie Wren's Christmas Story

The text of the story is here: http://www.xtec.cat/~dsanz4/materiales/auggie_wren.pdf, and you can hear Paul Auster reading it aloud here: http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=4244994&m=4244995


- What are Christmas stories like?
- What is special about Auggie Wren's Christmas story?
- What do you think about Auggie's photo project? Can time be captured?
- Do you think Auggie's behaviour with the old lady is right?
- Should stories always be true? What's the relationship between art and reality?