2007: 85. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, and other stories

“A very little boy stood upon a heap of gravel for the honor of Rum Alley.  He was throwing stones at howling urchins from Devil’s Row who were circling madly about the heap and pelting at him.”

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and other stories, Stephen Crane

The only Crane I had read before this was his poetry (despite my dad’s best effort to get me to read The Red Badge of Courage) and I was pleasantly surprised.  These are pretty meaty stories, if a little didactic. Maggie has to do with a woman who becomes “bad” and why she went that way.  It doesn’t judge her, just her circumstances, and has real pity for how she ends up.  Today, it’s cliched, of course, but back then (i.e. 1891 - though he originally had to tone the language down a bit) it was extremely frank and understanding.  The Monster is a chilling view of how a town can turn on one of its own - it reminds me (in a good way) of The Twilight Zone.  The others are less political, just ripping tales, but fine in their way.  Taking into account the change in mores, I still found this to be a thoughtful, well-written book.  

My only peeve, and it is a real peeve of mine, is that Crane writes in dialect, which I hate.  There is way to represent how people really speak without resorting to something like the following sentence (chosen totally at random):

“She allus was a bold thing... Dere wasn’t a feller come teh da house but she’d try teh mash ‘em.  My Annie says deh shameless t’ing tried teh ketch her feller, her own feller, what we uster know his fader.”  (p.34 Bantam Classic edition)

I HATE THIS.  It pulls me out of the book, makes me read each word out loud to myself to figure out what is going on.  It really reduced my interest in the book, which otherwise (as I said) I really enjoyed.

Recommended for:  People who like to read classics, people who want to read an early (relatively) frank and sympathetic view of sexuality in turn of the century America

Date/Place Completed: 6/13/07; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017