Tied In A Bow by Langston Hughes, 1957
The magic trick:
All dialogue, no description
Happy New Year 2019! I’m writing this in the summer of 2016, so that sentence seems very strange. I mean it all the same, though. Very sincerely.
So does Langston Hughes.
Simple has some new year’s resolutions for you, and, predictably, they are brilliant.
From a magic trick perspective, we can note that the story has not one sentence of description. There is no establishing shot. No scene setting. It is straight dialogue the whole way through. Simple describes some scenes in his dialogue, but it’s always done through natural conversation. Such is the case for nearly every Simple story. But it’s worth noting nonetheless. And that’s And that’s quite a trick on Hughes’s part.
“When she took that present from the Christmas tree and untied it in front of all them other people, Joyce screamed, cried, danced, whirled around, ran across the room, hauled off and kissed me, then cried, ‘At last you have crossed the Ohio!’”
“What in God’s name did she mean by that?”
“She were thinking about Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Joyce explained to me later. And all she could say was, ‘Free! Free! Free! Jess Semple, you’re free!’”
“Do you mean to say you’ve been granted your divorce?”
“That is what I had hanging on the tree Christmas morning,” said Simple, “my divorce…”
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