Out of Peel Tree

Thoughts on reading Out of Peel Tree by Laura Long

  • By fragmenting the novel through short stories, Long could cover an impressive 2 generations of time. This led to some flat sections that told, rather than showed, the passage of time. The inconsistent narrator to style ratio made the overall story harder to follow. (For example, some Corina sections would be in 3rd limited and others would be in 1st person. The writing style of the stories, or the voice Corina reflected, was thus inconsistent enough to create discord in the reader. This issue was exacerbated when other narrators such as Billie interacted with her.) In general, the 1st person stories felt flatter, more limited, and more abstract.
  • Long did not include dialect or metaphors distinct to the regions she wrote about. This made it harder to understand the setting; I did not know the family’s socioeconomic status unless Long stated it, which I found disadvantageous because I never got to immerse myself in the world of the story. Though Long did provide several details of setting, they never matched any preconceived notions I had or provided enough details to overturn my misunderstandings. Instead, the details led me to be confused about what was going on in the story.
  • I appreciated the risks Long took with her writing and the way her poetry clearly influenced her novel. Several stories reflected a staccato rhythm gleaned from writing lots of poetry.
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