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short stories


spiral slowly headed downwards



A short story is a game played between writer and reader. The reader steps from word to word through the sentences, down the paragraphs, not certain where he or she is being led. Parts of the path are so well prepared -- a description, a dialogue -- we walk back up a stretch of stones just for the pleasure of strolling back down the paragraph again. In the best stories, the reader is called to the clearing of the final sentence, where the writer's short stab slides in.

The act of reading, at least in English and other European languages, is from left to right to the end of a line, then right to left to see the beginning of the next line, then left to right again, and so on. The act of reading, in effect, is a spiral slowly headed downwards.

As we descend into this worldlet built for us, even our attention to the details crafted for our pleasure does not allow us to see what the author has hidden here and there along the way. These may be revealed at the end, held out in the author's palms so that we want to travel back to a particular curve to uncover the clue concealed there, or may be revealed only on a rereading, or may remain forever buried, stepped over countless times, but never studied.

But that's all part of the game.


EARLY STORIES
THE SEX ACT
RECORDED OCCURRENCES
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ART CREDIT

La Partie de Cartes. Copyright 1917 by the estate of Ferginand Leger. All Rights Reserved.