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Old 10-27-2007, 06:04 PM   #21
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you don't have to look far:

shorter Chekov: decadent bourgeoisie play out now-meaningless family dramas in the Russian hinterlands. Curtain!

shorter Updike/Cheever: drink heavily and screw your best friend's wife. Drive away in the Volvo and contemplate/rationalize.

shorter Pynchon: take some drugs and then try to make sense of the world in all its nonsensical complexity. Alternately, DON't take drugs, but still try to make sense of the world in all its nonsensical complexity.

shorter Shakespeare: human relationships are f'd up.
shorter Henry James: human relationships are f'd up.
shorter Virginia Woolf: human relationships are f'd up.
shorter Ernest Hemingway: human relationships are f'd up.
shorter Scott Fitzgerald: human relationships are f'd up.


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Old 10-27-2007, 06:25 PM   #22
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very funny

mom breezed through novels--the bigger the better--but they always put me to sleep. i love the quick and complex.

one of my very favorite short stories was "the garden of forking paths" by borges . it might look like a quick read but the discussion has lasted for years.

On page 22 of Liddell Hart's History of World War I you will read that an attack against the Serre-Montauban line by thirteen British divisions (supported by 1,400 artillery pieces), planned for the 24th of July, 1916, had to be postponed until the morning of the 29th. The torrential rains, Captain Liddell Hart comments, caused this delay, an insignificant one, to be sure.

The following statement, dictated, reread and signed by Dr. Yu Tsun, former professor of English at the Hochschule at Tsingtao, throws an unsuspected light over the whole affair. The first two pages of the document are missing.

". . . and I hung up the receiver. Immediately afterwards, I recognized the voice that had answered in German. It was that of Captain Richard Madden. Madden's presence in Viktor Runeberg's apartment meant the end of our anxieties and--but this seemed, or should have seemed, very secondary to me--also the end of our lives. It meant that Runeberg had been arrested or murdered.
another short work i've always loved and which has elicited probably more commentary than any other piece besides maybe the bible is henry james' turn of the screw.

"the story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvioius remark that it was gruesome, as on christmas eve in an old house a strange talke should essentially be, i remember no comment uttered until somebody happened to note it as the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child."

i also love the works of gabriel garcia marquez and here you can see some difference in technique between a novel and novella from just this one writer in just his first sentence of each.

one hundred years of solitude begins: "many years later, as he faced the firing squad, colonel aureliano buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." clearly we are going on a journey of at least 400 pages.

whereas you can see it might only take 143 pages for the chronicle of a death foretold--"on the day they were going to kill him, santiago nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on. (you get the idea already but i just love the rest of this graph.) he'd dreamed he was going through a grove of timber trees where a gentle drizzle was falling, and for an instant he was happy in his dream, but when he awoke he felt completely spattered with bird sh*t."--where instead of bouncing through time we are not only given the day but even the time of day. we have been zero'd into time along with the character.

short stories isolate us even more. watch how they start:

hemmingway's the killers "the door of henry's lunchroom opened and two men came in. they sat down at the counter."

benet's devil and daniel webster: "it's a story they tell in the border country, where massachusetts joins vermont and new hampshire."

chekhov's the darling: "olenka, the daughter of the retired collegiate assessor plemyanikov, was sitting ont he back-door steps of her house doing nothing."

the writing is not just concise, but rich in elements & technique of the craft. a novel, written in the style of a short story would likely exhaust the reader.

of course there is always the most famous of first lines to set up any good story: "it was a dark and stormy night" by snoopy, i think.

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Old 10-27-2007, 09:45 PM   #23
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Superb analysis of the time-frame and concentration, LG4NB.

Really, it's something I never thought to examine...
+ Bonus Points for the author-on-author comparison!!!

I tend to read in the manner of eating popcorn; I love and appreciate the process, but much of it doesn't stay with me. It gets assimilated, perhaps, at some molecular level.
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Old 10-28-2007, 12:33 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by lazygood4nothinbum View Post
of course there is always the most famous of first lines to set up any good story: "it was a dark and stormy night" by snoopy, i think.
Heck, I thought the Bulwer-Lytton contest was bigger than the Pulitzer...

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Old 11-20-2007, 01:50 PM   #25
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hawking his new kindle reader on the charlie rose show, amazon ceo jeff bezos offered up a very nice description of big books. besides recording the history & emotions & stuff of civilization, he described a novel as a place of learning, where people can live vicariously through the characters & plot in a form unavailable to shorter media and in that the person is able to realize what they might not otherwise have chosen to hear told.

so where, say, a child might glorify war from a tv news report or might shrug off advice from a concerned parent, once engrossed in the highly developed details of a long story, opportunity can arise during the time taken to read for understanding which might not have otherwise taken root.
"off with their heads"~~dr. joseph-ignace guillotin

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Old 11-22-2007, 05:02 PM   #26
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This thread is getting pretty long...

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