Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two Short Novels. Max Jacob.



“The Japanese Family.” Max Jacob.

Review: Another short short story—or summary of a story. The Japanese boy buries his sister, draws comics, and every woman he draws is his sister. Someone sends his father some of his comics and his father recognizes his daughter in all of them.

“The Serial Novel—Again.” Max Jacob.

Review: And again, a short, short story. Biography of a man who does nothing because he cannot hold a job because he cannot do what he would be expected to do in the job. Of course, he could not accept an invitation because he is expected somewhere else but no one expects him. The short story as absurd.

Great French Short Stories. Ed. Germaine Brée. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc. 1960.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"6 Stories in Three Lines." Felix Feneon.



Review: Six stories summarized in exactly three concise lines. Example: “In the home of his absent master at Neuilly, Silot, a valet established an amusing woman, then disappeared carrying away everything but her.”

Great French Short Stories. Ed. Germaine Brée. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc. 1960.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"The TV." Ben Loory.



Review: One day a man does not feel like going to work. He calls the office and makes an excuse for not going to work. He decides to watch TV instead. Suddenly, he recognizes himself on the TV. He is in the office.

Then he watches other shows and he is featured in these shows too. Now he is on all the shows he sees. He is doubled, tripled, quadrupled. Finds himself bombarded by duplicates of himself.

He tries to break the spell by ripping out the cord of the TV, but now he tries to take it to the cellar to put it in the trash and he is passed on the stairs by a duplicate of himself bringing the TV from the trash in the cellar.

He has become lost in his fantasies. The nurses no longer answer his calls.

New Yorker (April 12, 2010), 64-65.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Gavin Highly." Janet Frame.



Review: Eccentric. Lives with the animals and his precious books. When the county officials said his shack needed to be fixed up, he offered an expert on books to sell his precious books to him. The expert said they were only worth a few pounds. Shocked. Highly couldn’t believe his valuable books were worth almost nothing.

He sat by willow trees at a creek and drowned his books that meant so much to him. And he’s gone. Probably living somewhere with a rabbit in a rabbit hole.

“A man can’t withstand a lifetime of dreams being swept away like that.”

The New Yorker (April 5, 2010), pp. 65-67.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"The Procurator of Judaea." Anatole France.



Review: A dialogue about Rome and its First-century A.D. culture between Pontius Pilate and Aelius Lamia. As part of the dialogue, Pontius Pilate admits that he once was enamored of a sultry Jewess. She had hung around some necromancer, who was eventually convicted of a crime and executed. 

“ ‘Jesus?’ he [Pontius Pilate] murmured, ‘Jesus of Nazareth? I cannot call him to mind.’ ” Nor does he name the Jewess.

Great French Short Stories. Ed. Germaine Brèe. New York: Dell Publishing Co., inc. 1969.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"The White Water Lily." Stephane Mallarme



Review: Mood piece. Reverie while rowing alone on a stream on a Sunday afternoon. He conjures up a beautiful lady who walks along with him and he converses with her although she is imaginary.

The first paragraph sets the scene: “I had been rowing for a long time with a sweeping, rhythmical drowsy stroke, my eyes within me fastened upon my utter forgetfulness of motion, while the laughter of the hour flowed round about. Immobility dozed everywhere so quietly that, when I was suddenly brushed by a dull sound which my boat half ran into….”

If that doesn’t put you to sleep, nothing will.

Great French Short Stories. Ed. Germaine Brèe. New York: Dell Publishing Co., inc. 1969.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Torture Through Hope." Villiers De L'isle Adam



Review: The heartlessness of the Inquisition. On the eve of his death through extended torture, the Rabbi, is allowed to think he has reached freedom. It is truly “torture through hope,” before he realizes that he is in the hands of the Grand Inquisitor himself and the mercy that is death is to be withheld for an extended length of time. The expressions of religious zeal are vivid as the Inquisitor speaks of mercy in his relentless violation of a human being.

Great French Short Stories. Ed. Germaine Brèe. New York: Dell Publishing Co., inc. 1969.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Hautot and His Son." Guy De Maupassant



Review: Hautot goes hunting, has a horrible accident when his gun misfires, and he dies. But not without telling his son that since his son's mother had died, seven years before, he had taken up with a woman and his father wants his son to tell her what happened and to take care of her. He dies. The son goes to the woman. She is naturally very upset, but she arranges that the son takes the father’s place at her table every Thursday at noon.

Great French Short Stories. Ed. Germaine Brèe. New York: Dell Publishing Co., inc. 1969.

Monday, May 3, 2010

"The Generous Gamester." Charles Baudelaire.


Review: A most pleasant encounter with the Devil in which the narrator loses his soul when gambling with the Devil, but is guaranteed by the Devil to a life of pleasure and ease. Still, he goes to bed and prays to God that the Devil keeps his word.

Great French Short Stories. Ed. Germaine Brée. New York: Del Publishing Co., Inc. 1969.