50 GREAT SHORT STORIES
Or climbing the Everest of reading
You like reading, right? Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. So, we’ve established that! And, during your amazing journeys as readers, you have come across all kinds of books. The ones you can’t just put down. All Murakami novels for me. I’m a little bit masochistic, I have to admit, I ordered my copy of COLOURLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGREMAGE via Amazon, and I will receive it sometime in September. While Kinokuniya is filled with hundreds of copies. That I touched, and soothed with the top of my fingers, oh, guilty pleasures… But I’ll wait for my copy, like waiting for a much missed lover, making the final encounter even more exciting and… I bet some of you know what I’m talking about.
Then there are the books you have to read. Sometimes, in one’s lifetime. Like Joyce’s ULYSSES for me. Which I think I started at least four or five times. But I promise you, I’m going to read it! Sometimes. In this lifetime.
Then there are those books that, no matter what, you simply have to part from after only a few pages. You have to. You know you can use the time you would have wasted with them on other books. Like on one of those you can’t simply put down.
And then there are books like this 50 GREAT SHORT STORIES. On which I wrote, when I bought it, ‘still entertaining the idea of a short story collection of my own’. I like to write on books. When I bought them, where I bought them, what I’m expecting from them. This one I got from a book shop in the Frankfurt airport, on the 5th of July, 2013. I can’t remember, though, what I was doing there. But that’s fine, because this aspect is totally irrelevant to my story.
It’s a big book, almost 600 pages. I’m not such a big fan of big books. Reading them, trying to finish them, I mean, sometimes feels like a long run. Or climbing the Everest. To the base camp. It’s on my bucket list. Like ULYSSES. Shall I detail more? I love it, and I’ll finish it, but it’s tiresome. Somehow.
It’s a beautiful collection! Maupassant, Huxley, Joyce, Hemingway… Huxley’s GIOCONDA SMILE was like a truffle. Do you like truffles? I love them! The story goes smoothly, like a walk in a warm, summer rain. Delicious, never-ending pleasure, undecided skies. Is it how the reading feels, or how I feel Mr. Hutton? Huxley is a master in just dropping a hint of colour, and still managing a perfect profile for his characters, it’s like he’s not the painter, still you can see the portrait in front of your eyes, with every little annoying, still perfect and unforgettable detail… He’s the perfect lover, the sophisticated flirter, the bored husband – personally, I never understood why he married Doris, but, alas, why questioning Huxley? I remember I loved POINT COUNTER POINT so much!
I found another analogy! I love analogies, in case you haven’t concluded it yourselves. And it’s not another analogy, is the first one I thought of while reading the collection. A long corridor. With a lot of doors, both on the right, and on the left. Those of you who saw ROSE RED can picture it better. I’m walking this corridor I cannot see the end of, and this is a little bit scary, so you can maybe understand better my discomfort while reading this book, and I open the door on the right. It’s THE GARDEN PARTY (http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/GardPart.shtml). So beautiful, I stay there, with the door ajar, and I can smell the flowers, and the cookies, and it’s a nice feeling. Except for the death of the poor young man, whose eyes were blind under the closed eyelids.
The next door on the left leads me to Pushkin’s Russia. His short story THE SHOT (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXNlxmA6P5o) is so colourful, it reminds me of a nice book that delighted my childhood, written by another Russian, not as famous as Pushkin, Pyotr Yershov. The volume with THE LITTLE HUMPBACKED HORSE (http://lib.ru/LITRA/ERSHOW/horse.txt_with-big-pictures.html) was full of wonderful drawings, and here I am, digressing… Have you ever imagined, while reading a book, or a short story of a famous writer, have you pictured him at his desk, writing those adventures, bringing those characters to life? Have you? Can you picture Pushkin at his desk, painting those Slavic letters, almost alive under the flickering of the candle light? There’s a blizzard outside, lot of snow and… (this might be the result of too much sun in the Desert…)
I still have 24 stories to read. And I have to admit I opened doors and I closed them shortly after. Maybe I didn’t like the smell, or the light (meaning there were too many words, a weird order, a sensible arrangement of the phrase that I didn’t enjoy. I cannot say for sure.) I preferred to close the door, and opened another one. So, I can’t say for sure that I’ll enjoy all the 24 ones that I still have to open.
Still. The short stories in this volume are real works of art. They are so vivid, and so wonderful, and so full of spectacular adventures that you would really don’t want them to end. So, maybe that endless corridor is not scary and worrying after all. It is more like Forest Gump’s box of chocolate. You will never know what you’re going to get.