Paper Topics by Harriet JacobsHarriet Jacobs was a talented writer whose story of hardship and finding redemption in nature was a major influence on modern writers such as J.D. Salinger. Her books, such as The Crossing, as well as other short stories, are featured in this collection of her work. She began writing for a living when she was just nineteen years old and worked at various jobs while she began writing and producing books of her own. It is her ability to bridge the gap between nature and human emotion that inspired many writers to do the same.
Many of her short stories are told from the perspectives of her heroes, the native people of the area in which she is writing. This is how she came up with the idea of interlacing her characters' words with descriptions of their surroundings, often using both native and colonial American terms. Some of her characters even speak English, reflecting how important English was to the people who lived around her. For example, one character describes her surroundings as 'a delightful little hick town where a few people keep it.'
Jacobs has earned two Edgar Awards, a Hugo, and an O. Henry Award. Her work has also been featured in her native country of Canada and continues to be widely read there. Unfortunately, most of her stories are not available in the United States, but many have been published in translation.
In her most famous story, 'The Crossing,' Jacobs gives her readers a peek into life on the railroad, showing us the hardships that people go through to move from one state to another, for better or worse. Her methods of describing the hardships experienced by her protagonists are subtle and powerful, making her story an unforgettable and haunting read.
Her next story, 'All About White House' tells of the pride of a small island, the pride of a widowed woman, and the secret lives of people in order to survive. When the money supply runs dry, only two people can survive: a man and his young daughter. They make their way together to the next stop on the journey to freedom. Jacobs' attention to detail and ability to create a memorable world with simple words is remarkable, and the readers will often feel like they are experiencing it firsthand.
In 'The Beekeeper's Daughter,' Jacobs weaves her characters' experiences of surviving the devastation brought on by an outbreak of cholera among indigenous peoples. Her use of the native and colonial American words allow her to include some of the very real concerns faced by the native people of the area, and how their plight affected them and their land. Jacobs writes of many tragedies, including the rise of tuberculosis, the deaths of parents and children, and the inability of some families to return to their land.
In her third book, Jacobs illustrates her point through the eyes of her protagonist, a woman who wants to leave her husband because he treats her badly. At first, her intention seems justifiable. But after she meets a British man, who offers to help her flee, she discovers that her intentions have changed. This is a story about romance and jealousy, but it also uses the effects of pollution, and the fear that pollution is the one thing that will kill the people of these beautiful islands.
In addition to being a strong and successful writer, Jacobs is also a powerful advocate for the environment, and her writing brings to light the vast ways in which we must help the environment. I highly recommend this collection to all who love the short stories featured in Paper Topics.