Friday, August 19, 2011

"The Silent Treatment"

Lucienne Desnoues

An avid hunter, Aldo Corrado, possessed of the finest operatic voice in Europe, one day, while hunting, mistakenly hits and eventually kills a nightingale. At the moment of the nightingale’s death, Aldo, performing in the middle of an opera, is struck songless. Try as he might, he cannot sing.

What follows is years of doctors, none of whom can diagnose the illness that has killed Aldo’s voice. He can still talk, but he cannot sing.

And what also follows is years of walks on his estate, listening to the birds, identifying their songs, and enjoying the beauty of their music. And then on Christmas day, Aldo Corrado once again sings beautifully. The birds have forgiven the stray shot that killed the nightingale.

Comment: You could re-name this story, “The Birds’ Revenge.” And, of course, it reminds the reader of Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” I like the author’s title as is. The specialized language of music is featured in this story. I did not understand many of the words, but they did not get in the way of understanding the story. RayS.

Rating: **** out of *****.

About the Author: “Lucienne Desnoues’ artisan and peasant lineage form the bedrock of her literary production. Encouraged by Colette and other writers, she has published several volumes of poetry and prose. Some of her stories, including “The Silent Treatment,” have been adapted by French television. Her story…[was translated by] Susan Kotta, an accomplished translator….”

Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp. 24-36. 

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