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“Pharmacy” by Elizabeth Strout has a sort of layered effect that adds depth to the story. In the present moment the story is about a man receiving a letter from an old employee about her present life. However, the story moves fluidly through time, which is impressive because it is a short story and still covers so much ground. At one point the story is about two couples sitting down to dinner, at another it is about three coworkers having cake to celebrate an accomplishment, at another it is about a funeral after a young man has killed his best friend, leaving the young wife widowed. The camera of this story zooms through time, moving back and forth, which could be confusing or overwhelming but in this story it is subtle and well-done. One of the things that makes it so well-done is that the camera comes into focus and pauses on moments like these, small moments, with dialogue, details, specific actions. The reader gets to land in a moment, observe the characters, and make decisions about the conflict without being rushed through time.

Then the camera moves to a different moment, a different event in time and that creates the overarching points of the story and the theme. This movement over large periods of time, from the moment Denise and Henry met, to the letter she sends him where she finally signs it with love, creates well-developed characters, a more interesting plotline, and depth. The layers of the story with the specific scenes allows for the long time frame without the story feeling like a summary but the span of the story is necessary to capture the larger ideas and themes.

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