‘The First Day Of Winter’ by Breece D’J Pancake

The First Day Of Winter by Breece D’J Pancake, 1983

The magic trick:

Giving the reader insight into the mind and frustration of Hollis

The final story in Pancake’s only collection, “The First Day Of Winter” is a perfect conclusion, leaving a cold, beautiful depression with the reader.

The key here is the way we get insight into Hollis’s mind. We see how difficult this life is for him. So that when we see him compromise and carry on through things with his parents, it makes his frustration all the more poignant.

And that’s quite a trick on Pancake’s part.

The selection:

Hollis’s knuckles were bloody, scraped under the raised hood, and they stung as he turned the key harder, gripped the wheel. His father’s cane tapped through the frosty yard, the still of December, and came closer to Hollis. The blind man’s mouth was shut against the cold, the dark air so close to his face, and Hollis stopped trying the engine, got out.

“You can tell she’s locking up.” The blind man faced him.

“This ain’t a tractor.” Hollis walked around, looked under the hood, saw the hairline crack along one side of the engine block.

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