See the Other Side

“See the Other Side” by Tatyana Tolstaya

Please leave your comments and reactions below.

3 Responses “See the Other Side” →
  1. Since I ask everyone what made them choose the piece we’re reading, I suppose I could start this by answering my own question.

    I suppose on one level, I’m attracted to stories about fathers because my father died when I was very young. I love the that the narrator has this image of her young father and that she is retracing his travels. Ultimately, I wouldn’t say the story is about the father, but is built from his experiences and his postcard.

    My favorite moment is what I consider the real moment of grace in the story: the devouring of the pizza. We see (the other side) of our saintly figure: his humanity. I just find that moment beautiful.

    My classes don’t always process this story very well at first. It gets thrown into the “I don’t get it” category. One of the ways I’ve found to get students into the story is to have them start looking at all the dichotomies: Heaven/Hell, young/old, light/dark, this side/that side, vineland/wasteland, etc.

    I also love the Dante references and the idea that inside these old churches feels like a dark, dusty, and humid hell to some tourists. As Jean-Paul “Super-Giggles” Sartre once wrote, “Hell is other people.”

    Reply
    • Stephen,
      I just came across this post. “See the Other Side” was one of the most unexpected stories that I read/taught this year. I can’t seem to get past it; I just love it. I think my own nostalgia for my travels in Italy in college and the fact that I got to go back alone this year tied into its meaning for me. Many of my students seemed to really like it. Several said in May that it had been one of their favorite stories from the year (we read it in October). One of these students came to England and France with us for Spring Break. She brought up the story in several of the old churches we visited. It’s a story that sticks with the reader in an uncomfortable, yet somehow desirable, way.

      Reply

  2. Anna Hartzog

    July 17, 2014

    Stephen,
    I just came across this post. “See the Other Side” was one of the most unexpected stories that I read/taught this year. I can’t seem to get past it; I just love it. I think my own nostalgia for my travels in Italy in college and the fact that I got to go back alone this year tied into its meaning for me. Many of my students seemed to really like it. Several said in May that it had been one of their favorite stories from the year (we read it in October). One of these students came to England and France with us for Spring Break. She brought up the story in several of the old churches we visited. It’s a story that sticks with the reader in an uncomfortable, yet somehow desirable, way.

    Reply

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