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Archive for the ‘Hingston & Olsen’ Category

SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 25, 2021] “How Wang-Fo Was Saved”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

So here’s yet another story translated by Manguel.

The last few stories in this collection just left me feeling unhappy.  I didn’t really enjoy them, and found them mostly tedious.  A lot of them felt like stories that took an idea and kept building on it with more an more examples. Rather than advancing the story, it just reiterated the story.

Yourcenar evidently wrote many

Oriental Tales, stories set in the Near and Far East, a few based on traditional legends and folktales. According to Yourcenar, the story of the painter Wang-Fo and his disciple is her own invention, though inspired by a Chinese Taoist classic. Scholars, however, have pointed out that Yourcenar seems to have taken her inspiration from a collection of Japanese tales collected and retold by the nineteenth-century Greek-Irish scholar Lafcadio Hearn.

So, yes, another old story, which is what this reads like.

First we meet Wang-Fo’s disciple, who gave up his life to follow the amazing painter Wang-Fo.  He was very wealthy and slowly gave up everything so that Wang-Fo could continue to do his work. Everything he painted felt better than life–more vivid, more real. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 24, 2021] “The Young King”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

I was pretty delighted that Oscar Wilde was selected for this short story (with the caveat that there are hundreds of more recent Irish short story writers to choose from of course).  And it started off with Wilde’s wit with the king’s courtiers needing Etiquette lessons because most of them still had natural manners–a very grave offense.

But then, good lord, this story dragged on so torturously.

A 16 year old lad is named to be the next king.  He was raised by goatherds so he is blown away by the sumptuousness of the castle.  But, as is the case with children’s stories, of which this is apparently one, he has three bad dreams.

Long dreams.  Elaborately detailed and yet rather tedious dreams. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 23, 2021] “The Fire Balloons”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

This is the kind of story that unfolds itself, proving to be too big for itself.

It is about a king who feared death.  So he ordered a cemetery to be built in the center of the kingdom with very high walls.  Everyone currently buried would be dg up and moved to the new cemetery.

This takes extensive time and involves many years of building a digging (often with one piece sufficing as an entire body). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 22, 2021] “Truman Capote”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

I read this whole story believing it was written by Truman Capote and believing that perhaps (as with many of the other authors in this collection) he originated from a place I didn’t realize.  And that Hassouna Mosbahi was a person or perhaps a place that I’d never heard of.

And I thought it was really weird and meta that Truman Capote was writing about himself and that he was writing about himself as if he were dead.  It seemed like a pretty crazy conceit.

Whoops.

This story is introduced by a narrator who relates his forgetfulness.  He has arrived home in Tunisia, but he’s not sure why.  Eventually he discovers a telegram that informs him his grandmother has died.  While he is in the center city he sees Truman Capote in his white suit and hat. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 21, 2021] “The Three Hermits”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

By the time I saw Leo Tolstoy I was getting a little annoyed by the end of this collection.  Nothing against Tolstoy at all–we should all read him more, but again, I wanted a contemporary writer to get excited by.

And then this story turned out to be exactly the same as Ray Bradbury’s story (obviously Tolstoy was first), but it was less satisfying.

Basically, a bishop is aboard a ship and is told by the pilgrims on board that there’s an island nearby with three very holy hermits.  Naturally the busybody bishop needs to see them to make sure they are praying correctly. So he disrupts the entire voyage, making everyone else delay their travels for at least a full day, so he can be a pain in the ass to these poor hermits.

He tries to teach them about god, but they don’t understand him. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 20, 2021] “Ch’ien-niang”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

As with Homer and Hans Christian Andersen, I am fairly surprised that Manguel went back to the Tang Dynasty (even if it the Golden Age of Chinese literature) to find a story.  Especially since “’Ch’ien-niang’ is a Chinese version of Sleeping Beauty with a twist.”

Ch’ien-niang is a legend that the narrator had often heard of.

Ch’ien-niang was designed to marry Wang Chou.  But Chou was to be sent away instead. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 19, 2021] “The Fire Balloons”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

This is the story of Trudy, a young woman who pretends to be much younger in order to win a suitor.

Trudy met the man, Richard, on vacation.  She and her friend Gwen had gone to Austria and after a couple of days they ran into Richard, who had known Gwen for years.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 18, 2021] “The Travelling Companion”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

I have mixed feelings about including a Hans Christian Andersen story here.  On the one hand, I don’t think I have ever actually read an HCA story (of course I know many of them).  So on the one hand it was interesting to do so.  But, as with Homer, there was no from the last century and a half in Denmark worthy of inclusion here?

In this story a Poor John’s father dies immediately.  So Poor John sets off with his few belongings to seek his fortune.

The first night he slept under the stars and in the morning gave some coins to a beggar.  Later that night, he happened upon a church and made to sleep there for the night as the weather was worsening. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 17, 2021] “From the Fifteenth District”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

I thought  had read more by Mavis Gallant, but apparently I hadn’t.  This is a light and amusing ghost story, set in the fifteenth district of Paris.

But Gallant has an amusing twist on the concept right from the start.

A deceased soldier says that he is haunted by the entire congregation of St. Michael and All Angels on Bartholomew Street.  Since he received his posthumous purple heart, people await for him to come and receive communion, and the crowd gets larger every year. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 16, 2021] “The Dwarf in the Television Set”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

This story made me a little uncomfortable because of the whole “dwarf in the television set” aspect.  Manguel describes it as a fantastic farce, but the whole thing felt weird and unfunny.  Maybe I would have thought it was funny if I read it when it came out.

The dwarf lives inside a gigantic color TV.  The TV is owned by Gastão (who owns a department store with many TVs). (more…)

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