The Tree Line, Kansas, 1934. A review.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Tree Line, Kansas, 1934 is short story about a stakeout, and appears in the Oct. issue of The New Yorker.  It's written by American writer David Means.  Means, a professor of English at Vasser College, contributes regularly to such  publications as Harper's, Esquire, and of course The New Yorker.  Means' skill set lays in the bringing to life of mundane and typical scenarios.  He exemplifies this trait throughout his latest published work.

It's a tale about two FBI officers and their pursuit of a wanted criminal.  The strength of the delivery is the excellent use of dialogue, and Means' ability to paint pictures with words.

Means doesn't use quotation marks to indicate who's speaking.  Instead, he uses the speech of a character to help and maintain with the flow of the story.  I enjoyed this methodology of dialogue because it provided for a natural tone of story telling and speaking.  It ultimately gives the reader a reliable introspective tale that I'm not sure could be equally achieved using quotation marks, or breaking up sentences.

Perhaps as a crutch, yet nonetheless effective, Means' short story takes place primarily outdoors, which provides the author with ample opportunity to use show--and not tell--in an enjoyable manner.  He describes simple things, like puffs of smoke, with an assassin's precision.  Even the crumpling of leafs is brought to a new life through Means' efficient use of words and language.        


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