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The American Short Story Cycle$
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Jennifer J. Smith

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474423939

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474423939.001.0001

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Writing Time in Metaphors

Writing Time in Metaphors

(p.60) Chapter 3 Writing Time in Metaphors
The American Short Story Cycle

Jennifer J. Smith

Edinburgh University Press

Coherence of place often exists alongside irregularities in time in cycles, and chapter three turns to cycles linked by temporal markers. Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles (1950) follows a linear chronology and describes the exploration, conquest, and repopulation of Mars by humans. Conversely, Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine (1984) jumps back and forth across time to narrate the lives of interconnected families in the western United States. Bradbury’s cycle invokes a confluence of historical forces—time as value-laden, work as a calling, and travel as necessitating standardized time—and contextualizes them in relation to anxieties about the space race. Erdrich’s cycle invokes broader, oppositional conceptions of time—as recursive and arbitrary and as causal and meaningful—to depict time as implicated in an entire system of measurement that made possible the destruction and exploitation of the Chippewa people. Both volumes understand the United States to be preoccupied with imperialist impulses. Even as they critique such projects, they also point to the tenacity with which individuals encounter these systems, and they do so by creating “interstitial temporalities,” which allow them to navigate time at the crossroads of language and culture.

Keywords:   Temporality, Time, Ray Bradbury, Louise Erdrich, Colonialism, Imperialism

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