ETHOS

ETHOS

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Again... the short story

So Chekhov is good. He has to be, because Cheever was the Chekhov of the suburbs, and Carver was the Chekhov of... desperation. Then there's Gogol: your character should want something even if it's only a glass of water. I'll just teach "The Overcoat" and call it a day. You've got character study, conflict, social satire, magical realism... And Tolstoy! Who needs Aesop when you've got him? Parable ahoy. So now I'm never leaving Russia.

But what about Joyce? Oh buddy. You've got to have Joyce. Who wouldn't want to read a guy with an eye patch? And those epiphanies... where would we be without them? So I could theoretically teach Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gogol, Joyce and...hmmm... Cheever or Carver. I might have to go with Cheever. Sorry. He's got a better sense of humor. No eye patch, but he used to try and get journalists drunk so they couldn't interview him. And he wrote "The Death of Justina." And "Goodbye My Brother."

Then what? I'm starting to feel like some literary gasbag imagining a room with these writers' heads hanging on plaques. Of course everyone would be smoking giant cigars and talking about Hemingway's iceberg theory. Uh-oh. What about Hemingway? He's pretty good. No, nothing pretty. He's damn good.

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