Friday, March 24, 2006

Wonder, on 'short' notice

Have been reading an excellent anthology of short shorts edited by Irwing Howe, which is a collection of truly great stories that span only a few pages, and therefore cannot be called short stories. Howe writes exemplarily about them in his introduction:

No one reading xxx is likely to forget its solitary image: the old man sitting there, alone in the kitchen…it pierces the heart. It speaks to the human condition in some profound way. Yet we would have a hard time saying precisely in which way, for there is something mysterious about this image, communicating more than we can say about it.

Hardly any of the stories in this collection are online, since they are too recent to escape the copyright clause. However, one by Leo Tolstoy, I have been fortunately able to locate. It's called Alyosha the Pot:

"Are you really going to die?" Ustinia asked.

"Of course I am. You can't go on living for ever. You must go when the time comes." Alyosha spoke rapidly as usual. "Thank you, Ustinia. You've been very good to me. What a lucky thing they didn't let us marry! Where should we have been now? It's much better as it is."

When the priest came, he prayed with his bands and with his heart. "As it is good here when you obey and do no harm to others, so it will be there," was the thought within it.

He spoke very little; he only said he was thirsty, and he seemed full of wonder at something.

Doesn't end there; read it here.

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