Book description

Book info

eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
PublisherDover Publications
File size3.2 Mb
Release date 02.05.1995
Pages count90
Book rating4.26 (129 votes)
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Hector Hugh Monroe was an author of British extraction born in Burma. He lived a life shared by many authors of the imperial period, he traveling widely, and finding work as a journalist in the wild world of the empire's influence. Like Kipling before him, he was a foreign-born man whose varied experiences lent depth and breadth to his tales.

He began writing short stories under the moniker 'Saki'—taken either from a character in the Rubiyat or a type of monkey—and became an acknowledged master of the form, tightening up the quirky, sometimes eerie style of Kipling and adding a deep wellspring of absurd humor which would in turn inspire the high farces of Wodehouse. He lived a suppressed man in an age when the 'unspeakable vice of the Greeks' was a criminal offense, and died a middle-aged soldier trying to make a difference in the trenches of The Great War.

What can a reviewer say about a perfect short story? That it must be brief enough not to be bogged down in superfluity, and it must be long enough to show a complete story arc: the set up, the conflict, and the reveal. A perfect short story quickly introduces characters who are at once recognizable yet puzzling—that strange gift which so shines in Chekhov. It revolves around a climax which is almost a punchline, but with a tinge of bittersweet pathos.

The master carver pulls from his pocket what seems a plain walnut, but in a moment, has popped it open, so that we can see inside a scene has been carved in complete detail. We bend down, our eyes devouring details, drawing us in, and just as we have been given a glimpse of this dear, miniature world, it snaps shut again, leaving us with the vivid impression of a work of utter precision, where any stroke out of place could have marred the whole thing in an instant.

Each story is an example of self-sufficiency, with everything in its place, so that a reviewer feels almost impious at the notion that he could add anything to a work so self-contained. Instead I must make something to hold it—a setting for the well-cut stone, a baize-lined box for the brass-hinged walnut—and having made a box to hold the box which holds the story, all that remains is for me to give it to you.

There's simply nothing more to add.

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