LITERATURE: Some Um’s..?

Having my own work critiqued recently may have made me even more diligent in the reading of story, and there are a couple that I’ve found in this Hitchcock anthology:

Finger!  Finger! by Margaret Ronan is about a young girl who comes into the employment as a servant to a wealthy, bedridden, grossly overweight and particularly nasty old woman who tends to stick out her pinky finger (and why so much emphasis was placed on this is part of my problem with the story).  Miss Amanda, the old woman, has gone through many serving girls prior to Carola, and the premise is that not only is she obnoxious, she switches souls and personalities with the girls once she gets a close grip on them, leaving in the body of the servant and leaving the girl in the lump in the bed.  While it is believable that once this switch is made that the trapped personality would get just as anxious and cranky to leave (though it’s doubtful that she’s been successful before, since girls leave or commit suicide) the ending that has Carola (in the gross body) strangling to death Miss Amanda (in the young body) doesn’t make sense–since I assume that she is then trapped forever.  And the pinky finger that’s so important?  Well Ronan has dramatically pointed out that the old woman (really Carola) has it stuck out as she strangles the young girl (really Amanda).  To me, the arching of the pinky finger is a learned affectation, and therefore, would have been transferred to the young girl’s body along with the rest of Amanda.  So no, that story didn’t work for me.

In Henry Slesar’s A Cry from the Penthouse, Slesar starts out and continues on and on about the bitter cold "The wind carried knives; Chet winced at every thrust…" (which is a neat metaphor and phrase here), but when Chet finally gets a cab and is inside a friend’s new penthouse to collect money loaned to his friend, the friend "strode over to the double doors and flung them open, admitting an inquisitive cloud of cold air."

Inquisitive?  If it was icy and bitterly windy on the street, what would you expect at the top floor terrace?  Chet has also been relieved of his overcoat and is talked by his host into going out on the terrace, admiring the view until he realizes he’s shivering. 

I’m sorry; I just don’t believe it.

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