Caught on the Precipice : A Collection of Short Stories
The stories in Caught on the Precipice deal with a changing dynamic in family. Even though the characters are of varying ages and backgrounds, each protagonist must reconcile the missed connections of their past. The progression of these stories also represents an increasing degree of separation between characters. The opening story, "Being Ernest," finds the protagonist (Jason) surprised by a childhood friend (Ernest) whom he hasn't seen in over twenty years. In the relationship between Jason and Ernest, Jason endeavors to resolve for himself his betrayal of his friend. These two characters, linked by their childhood pact to remain brothers, are separated by the years apart from one another as well as by their different lifestyle choices. Ernest has sustained himself as a con man, and Jason is thrust into the position of an unwitting (and unwilling) accomplice to Ernest's latest scams. Though the missed connections for Ernest and Jason are many, the separation between Jimmy and his father in the last story of this collection is less obvious. "Mile Marker" deals with the opposing ideals of Jimmy and his father (James Sr.). This story portrays a family whose land will soon be destroyed for the construction of a major highway. The looming highway serves as a metaphor for the separation that has slowly crept into Jimmy's relationship with his father. The disconnection between father and son, often ignored by the characters, parallels the construction that creeps ever closer to the characters' farm. Though the protagonists' disconnect from family (and their awareness of such) are represented in extreme degrees between the first and last story, the stories placed in the middle portray characters that are often lost in the absence of a family connection. For example, "Slipped Away to the Next Room" portrays a reminiscent narrator who takes on the memory of her mother's death (and consequently, her stepfather becoming her guardian). Even through her resentment towards Mark's place in her family, Brigitte must face her connection with Mark. They have both lost the one person (Brigitte's mother/Mark's wife) that brought them together. The title for this collection of stories, Caught on the Precipice, represents the metaphorical edge on which each of the protagonists stands. For each story, the main character must face and reconcile with the one person who can change the direction of his or her life.
Marshall, Dominique. (January 2011). Caught on the Precipice : A Collection of Short Stories (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/3708.)
Marshall, Dominique. Caught on the Precipice : A Collection of Short Stories. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, January 2011. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/3708. October 26, 2020.
Marshall, Dominique, “Caught on the Precipice : A Collection of Short Stories” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, January 2011).
Marshall, Dominique. Caught on the Precipice : A Collection of Short Stories [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; January 2011.
East Carolina University