From time to time I become smitten with an element of craft. These days, I’m head over heels for monologues.
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- “Mothers, Tell Your Daughters,” the title story in Bonnie Jo Campbell’s 2015 collection, was first published by One Story. Read Bonnie Jo’s thoughts on writing a monologue from the point-of-view of an old (not so very nice) mother incapacitated by a stroke.
- “Girl” — a short story by Jamaica Kincaid
- Michael Martone’s Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler’s List, Enlarged Edition: Indiana Stories. In “Everybody Watching and the Time Passing Like That,” James Dean’s high school drama coach remembers teaching young James to kiss and die. Speaking to a magazine reporter, Mrs. Nall recalls Dean posing in a casket for pictures and analyzes his acting in a safe-driving public service announcement filmed thirteen days before his death in a car accident. While the details of Dean’s life (and death) are thick, it is Mrs. Nall’s regrets that linger.
- In Grace Paley’s “Goodbye and Good Luck,” big-hearted and oversized Aunt Rose embarrasses her niece with stories of her unconventional life as mistress to the Russian Art Theatre’s greatest star, among others. Her tales finally told, Rose asks Lillie to perform her own monologue: “tell this story to your mama from your young mouth. She don’t listen to a word from me…Tell her after all I’ll have a husband, which, as everybody knows, a woman should have at least one before the end of the story.”
- Marilynne Robinson followed her success in Housekeeping with Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames’s life, he writes a letter to his young son to help the boy understand his father’s love and family’s long sense of religion and justice. “If you’re a grown man when you read this—it is my intention for this letter that you will read it then—I’ll have been gone a long time. I’ll know most of what there is to know about being dead, but I’ll probably keep it to myself. That seems to be the way of things.”