Monday, February 04, 2008

Short Story Monday V - "Small Avalanches"

I read the title story from the Joyce Carol Oates Small Avalanches short story collection over a sandwich this noon. About two-thirds of the way through it I started to wonder if I had already read this one, and it was only on the drive home that I figured out why it gave me that impression. It is all because of a film clip based on the story that I stumbled upon on YouTube a while back. The clip is not very long but it does involve the beginning of the story's key scene, so I've attached it here.

Nancy, a thirteen-year-old small-town Colorado girl is bored and desperate to find something interesting with which to occupy herself. It is on her way back home from a visit to her uncle's service station that her life takes a strange twist when a man at least her father's age offers her a ride home. Nancy is not the most sophisticated of young girls and she makes the mistake of responding to the man's questions after he parks his car and begins to walk behind her.

Both Nancy and the unnamed man make decisions that lead to much more than either could have expected when Nancy recognizes a way to escape the man's attentions.

The young actress is not much as described in the story but is very believable in this clip. I'm going to have to find the whole adaptation to see how it holds up to the original.

Story Rated at: 4.0


  1. This reminds me a little of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?".

  2. Funny you should mention that one,'s included in this same collection. I suppose the collection may have really been aimed at the YA market but I think it's pretty spooky at times...with lessons to be learned, however.

  3. I'm doing a report on Joyce Carol Oates, so I read her short story collection "small avalanches and other short stories" and it contains this story, but I imagined the girl to be prettier. Haha

  4. Derreck, it's always kind of a shock when the mental image and the film image are that different, isn't it? That's part of the reason I prefer reading to film, generally - I can generate my own mental image of a scene, including the people in it, and it becomes much more memorable and meaningful than what I would get from a movie. Sometimes, in fact, my reaction to actors taints an otherwise very good book or story to the point that I can't even tolerate it.