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This whole story sits with me a weird way. I didn’t really enjoy it, yet, didn’t really think it was awful. It was just…there.  The concept was interesting enough. A woman, Ruth Lealand, is in a state of incessant suffering from the death of her child and attempts to, apparently, find comfort in the fact that Jaguars had once lived in South Carolina. There is no reason for her to want them to have lived there; no phenomenal payoff, or personal benefit of any kind. She simply hopes that it is true.

I am a little on the fence about place in this story. In the other stories in this book, he has very blatantly used place to help shape the story. That is why I feel like the significance of place in this story is a big huge illusion. While the story is technically about a specific “place” it really isn’t. It’s more about location. It really doesn’t make a difference whether or not Ruth lives in South Carolina. The place in this story was nothing but a name for Ruth’s location, and a means to portray somewhere with a low likelihood of once inhabiting jaguars. South Carolina doesn’t really seem to have otherwise shaped Ruth. There are not a whole lot of significant details that make a difference to the outcome of the story; no southern personalities,  or specifically “South Carolinian” characteristics seem to be presented. Therefore, I refuse to believe the author wanted us to pay close attention to place while reading the story.

The issues in the story are deep, yet narrow. They are not presented to incorporate her life story, but to deal solely with Ruth in the moment. At the point of time of the story, all Ruth can really think of is her husband, child, and jaguars. I like how Rash does this. All the other details are unnecessary to the reader because they are unnecessary to the main character. It makes it a lot easier to connect to Ruth, regardless of whether we can relate to experiences or not.

Something that is also growing on me is the simplicity of Rash’s writing. While at moments it can feel a bit cliche, There are days at the office when Ruth feels invisible. Coworkers look right through her as they pass her desk  p. 93, they are easy to understand. It’s interesting to deal with such interesting and complex subjects while using such straightforward and simple writing.

I really enjoy reading Rash’s stories because I feel like they are honestly and purposefully written. Sometimes, when things are written as simply as this it is difficult to see how hard the author worked, but here, every word is very obviously chosen on purpose. I really believe his writing.

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