Date Archives May 2010

“t zero” by Italo Calvino

This is a bit of a strange mix of stories. Some are narrated by Qfwfq, who tells in first person stories of his experiences as various entities such as a unicellular organism at the creation of the universe. Others read like a well-written, literary version of a physicist’s thought experiments. All are interesting and thought-provoking, but get a little bogged… Read More

“Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida” Part 5

The final part in my journey through Russian literature. For the original post in the series, please click here. Varlam Shalamov Here we move into the Stalinist era and writing about the Gulag. Through the Snow is a beautiful extended metaphor about writing as walking through virgin snow, with readers coming along behind on tractors and horses. Berries is about… Read More

“Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida” Part 4

For the original post in this series, click here. Isaak Babel These three stories come from Babel’s posting as the equivalent of an embedded war correspondent with a Cossack regiment in Poland in 1920. They are not compromised or sanitised in any way, however: the convey the full savagery and horror not only of war but of military life. My… Read More

“Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida” Part 3

For the original post in this series, click here. The Gentleman from San Francisco and In Paris by Ivan Bunin Two stories about abrupt deaths, both beautifully written, both very different. The Gentleman from San Francisco is about the transitory nature of existence. A bit like Dostoevsky’s Bobok, it shows how a lot of the things we think are important… Read More

“Out of Office” by Mark Piggott

When I lived in America, I went driving along the coast of Maine once. My girlfriend at the time was experimenting with a new photographic technique, some way of punching up the colours so that when I look at our photos everything is more vivid: verdant green grass against a bright blue see and the blinding white of fishing boats…. Read More

“Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida” Part 2

Continuing my journey through Russian literature: if you want to see the introduction and reviews of earlier stories, click here. Bobok by Fyodor Dostoevsky Not my favourite Dostoevsky, this one. It’s quite a funny little story about a man who goes to a graveyard and hears the dead people talking to each other in their graves. There’s some good satire… Read More