[Note: the story has appeared in English translation under a variety of titles; I know of at least three: “The Schoolmistress” (Constance Garnett trans.), “A Journey by Cart” (Marian Fell) and “In the Cart” (Avrahm Yarmolinsky, the translation discussed by George Saunders in his book, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain). My method, were I to be teaching this story in a course on Russian literature: I would read the original first, then compare translations, trying to pick the best one for my students to read. In quoting here from the story in English I use the Marian Fell translation, which appears in the Norton Critical Edition, Anton Chekhov’s Short Stories (edited by Ralph Matlaw). I have made slight changes in certain passages and have changed her title.]
The Structure of the Story, the Protagonist, the Venality, the “Slice of Life”Continue reading →
This wee tome is very attractive. Royce M. Becker’s design and colorful illustrations are beautiful. Mr. Holdefer is an abundantly gifted, witty writer. His creation, his delightful doppelganger Blast, is a funny, goofy, erudite, Baron Munchausen of magic… Highly Recommended.
In a recent rant I wrote on the sad state of the contemporary American short story, I railed against what is sometimes known as ‘The New Yorker story,’ that all-too-common pedestrian thing called “domestic literary fiction.” Happily, there are always exceptions to egregious trends, and George Saunders (Tenth of December, Random House, 272 pages), who is a contributor to The New Yorker, is a big one. Exception, that is.
How is his fiction different from the normal, run-of-the-mill domestic stuff—the kind of fiction I can’t stand? A good place to begin would be with a comparison between his Tenth of December and another book of short stories recently published, The Refugees, by Viet Thanh Nguyen. I picked up Nguyen’s book with high expectations, having read his novel, The Sympathizer, which has great writing, wonderful sentences on every page. Continue reading →