Friday, February 13, 2009

"One Good One" by Chuck Hogan

This week I chose the short Story "One Good One" by Chuck Hogan.

This short story started off with Milky’s mother Patty sitting at her table crying because she hadn’t seen or heard from her son that lived with her for two day’s. When he finally showed up he created this story to ease his mother’s worries of him turning out like his brother. At that time the readers really don’t know much about his brother or what she didn’t want him to turn out like. The story then skipped and went back in time and gave the readers a little background on Patty’s past. Then it jumped back to the present and went into how Patty’s husband and son Jimmy died. Then the story jumped to Patty walking with a neighbor lady by the lake and she told her friend that her son Milky was working on a special project with the police department and that he was cleaning up his life. Then that friend she had told spread the word to her son who know or worked with Milky in some illegal work not sure what it was because all the facts were not given. It was almost like you needed to read between the lines to figure out what was going on. That friend didn’t like what he heard from his mother about Milky and so he and his other friends started watching Milky to see if he really was working undercover or something. Then one day a couple of police men stopped by because Milky was in trouble with the police again and Patty began bragging that Milky was going to be working so hard to help them with his special project because he wanted to make his mother proud. They didn’t know what she was talking about and thought they would teach Milky a lesson about lying to his mother. Then the story skips to Milky’s funeral. It says his death was ruled a suicide like his father, but you really don’t know because it doesn’t give you any of those details.

Differences in character, plots, settings and themes: I preferred Black Betty VS. "One Good One" because there was a mystery plot in Black Betty that you could follow. The characters were well developed and I felt like I could actually picture them and follow the story line. Each action in the story was well detailed and it felt as if I was watching a movie. Black Betty made me feel like I was learning more about the views of another race. I enjoyed the part where he flashbacked to his younger years in Houston when he thought Betty was the most beautiful thing and her kiss made him fall over. It was a sweet memory that drove him to want to reconnect with her. I also liked the fact that a white private eye went to Easy for help in trying to find someone. To me it was a step for the two different races to work together. The short story was to jumpy and didn’t give me any details to keep me interested in the story. I also felt that by the end of the story I really didn’t know what had happened. I had so many unanswered questions.

Consider how the length of short story vs. novel impacts the story: I do not believe the length of the short story VS. the length of the novel had any impact on the stories. "The One Good One" is not a real mystery and Black Betty was. I do believe the race differences may have had an impact on the story line. The short story was about a thug protecting his mother from the truth.

Which did you prefer in a given week and why? What did you like or dislike and why?: I can’t say I would be able to pick one over the other. I like piece of each of them. I like the story line of “Given Her History” just wish it went into more detail and didn’t just leave me hanging. I really didn’t care for the “Maltese Falcon” story line but liked the way the novel gave you what you need to keep reading until the end of the book. Then you felt like you knew what the book was about.

Differences between the short stories based on the gender of the author: The reason I chose it was because it was written by a man and wanted to compare the two male authors this week. I don’t believe gender played a role for my and the stories I read this week because they were both male. I do feel like the race played a huge impact. So far the novels wrote by a white male I didn’t prefer because they kept information from the readers and jumped around. As for the African American author, I felt he made the story more appealing to me by giving me the information to keep me reading.

Did the mystery in the short story work for you? – I did not care for the short story because it seemed to jump around and was hard to follow. The story was about a thug protecting his mother, basically lying to her, and at the end a surprise twist that I felt left me hanging.

Satisfied or unsatisfied by what happened in the end – I was unsatisfied by the ending of my short story because you never really found out what happened. It left so many unanswered questions in my head and I felt like I missed something when I finished reading it.


  1. Hi Amy,

    It seems to be a fairly common thread through the readings of the short stories that they aren't "real mysteries" because they don't follow the same formula as the other mysteries we've been reading, or what most mystery readers are used to. As more of a short story reader than a mystery reader, I kind of get the short stories--not necessarily as mysteries, but as stories that are mysterious, and a little odd.

    Perhaps just looking at them in a different perspective than with the criteria of a "mystery" will make it easier to understand and/or enjoy them? A short story has to accomplish a lot in a far shorter amount of pages, usually 30-50 rather than 300-400 pages, and it's quite a feat to manage if you really think about it. There's usually a really profound meaning in it, but almost always difficult to ascertain.

  2. Hi Amy -

    I agree with Cari - They seem to be a different category of mystery compared to the longer novel format.

    The story sounded confusing in its construct which would make it harder to detect a social commmentary embedded in the message. I don't thiink I would enjoy this story either. Nice job!

  3. cari your right, to me they seemed to have different categories of mysteries instead of the long novel format. I cant seem to stay focused in long format novels, I loose interest very fast. I think thats why I like mysteries because they keep me involved. If the story would be hard to follow along I dont know if I would like it, so I'm not too sure about reading that.

  4. I'm beginning to realize that most of the short stories don't fit the typical pattern for a mystery. Many don't even seem to be a real mystery, at least one with a murder. It also appears that in a short story there is little to no development of characters. I think writing my short story is going to be very challenging since there is a wide range of types of short story mysteries.

  5. I chose One Good One this week, too. The one thing I just couldn't quite figure out, was if there were any clues in the story to indicate a particular race/ethnic culture? It seemed to not have any clues, and I wondered if this was done on purpose to make the reader think about it.