The short story, In the Woods, is a short non-fictional essay written by Leslie Runinkowski in which she infuses the non-fictional aspects of her experience and perspective with fusion which is largely blended from her grandfather's experiences and perspectives. In this nonfictional narrative, Leslie meditates upon the place of truth and lies in her life and the idealness of both. She transfers these contemplations upon the truth to the reader and she confesses that to make the story better, she is lying to the reader. At the beginning of the narrative, the author is critical of lies; she feels that they are unnecessary and create an unreal, illusory world. She laments about how her grandfather's stories shaped her thinking about life and influenced her perspective on reality, honesty, adventure, writing and other aspects of her life later. However, through her writing, she appreciates the inescapability of lies from a story, whether intended or not. She admits that the beginning of every lie is an inquiry, a nudge by curiosity (Runinkowski). Moreover, because the detail is needed to satiate that thirst for the truth, the mind sometimes creates the happiest truth to fill in for the truth that we cannot totally remember or is not worth remembering.
Leslie refers to the mind as the great editor (Runinkowski), this infers that the memories that we use to create our stories are not gospel truths, but rather big editing jobs, sometimes showing only what we want to remember, or would have wanted to have remembered. The author admits that though telling lies is not right, it is a necessary resort for writers and she infers that in every story, there are always the beautiful truths designed to cover for what would have been tasteless or non-existent parts of the story. In the Woods is a chronicle of the author's exposure and abhorrence of lies at a young age, and how this transformed into reverence as she saw more of the true world. The author is still wary of lies, however, and their ability to creep into any story even without the author's intent. However, she admits that despite her and her grandfather being great liars, they are still great writers and that the crux of the stories presented as nonfiction is often pure fiction. The cat in the woods at first seems like a title off grandpas series alongside others like a Naked woman in the woods. However, unlike the others which he usually lets go, he keeps insisting on the cat in the woods and how t looked fit for Leslie. This eventually turns out to be true and her grandfather is ale to weave reality into the very stage he set his lies in a way that brings happiness to his granddaughter's life and actualizes his fictitious plots about the treasures of the woods. The cat in the woods is like miracle story, and in a way symbolizes the fulfillment of the author's grandfather's dreams. The beautiful cat in the woods parallels grandfathers fantasies about beautiful naked women in the woods, ugly women with pie in the woods and so forth. When the author later meets the woman who claims to have been a Hee Haw Honey, she is hopeful even as she investigates, that the fantasy world this woman had created for herself be true. She meets discrepancies at every stage (Runinkowski), discrepancies that represent the gap between what we would want to be, compared to what we are. The discrepancies that represent the dreams and aspirations of us all, and how life has dealt us. As she winds up on In The Woods, Leslie Runinkowski realizes that she will always be influenced by the lies she has been told and that her trade in perpetuating these lies was inevitable.
The author guides us through her criticism of beautifully woven lies in a cold, alienated world, they created hope and fulfilled illusions. She makes us realize that in creating these webs of deceit, we shape our ideal of life, of what we would rather be rather than what we are. Leslie helps us explore the world of fiction not as a creative endeavor, but as a factual exposition of an idea would be life through her grandfather's lies. She at the end shows that the fiction stories her grandfather had been giving her were not merely empty lies but dreams of life, dreams that at times could come true, just as the cat magically comes out of the woods.
In Andrei Codrescu's Joe Stopped By, the theme of childhood illusions woven by older patrons and the reconciliation of this illusion with reality as one grows up is again visited. Through Joe, who is the author's father-in-law, the mysterious figure who is a symbol of childhood authority appears intermittently and with each appearance leaves a different effect on his children and grandchildren. Joe is a vocal conservatist and bigot. He believes everything good is from his people, the Scottish Irish, the Anglo Saxons (Codrescu). He is critical of everything alien from this, of everything that is liberal. His daughters have grown up trying to win arguments unsuccessfully and unsatisfyingly against him (Codrescu). When they cannot, they finally defeat him by marrying what the author describes as anti-daddies (Codrescu). Men who are everything that their father was critical of. He does not approve of their marriages but as the story winds up, we find out that all this does not matter. He is still their father and he loves them in his own ways. His daughters make him realize the folly of his bigotry, his unilateral view of the world and his judgement standards. By agreeing with his fallacious arguments then completely disregarding the morals therein, his daughters parody his skewed views and judgement of people. Like In the Woods, Joe Stopped By is a non-fictional narrative that explores the world of illusions that are fed to humans when they are young, and the journey o reconnect the real world in these illusions. In In the Woods, when this reconnection is achieved when a real treasure appears from the woods, m Joe Stopped By, the reconnection materializes when Joe's daughters explore all their father had proselytized against and form their own different opinions about it.
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