Monday, November 22, 2004

Three leetle tales

I ambled across to the old shelf, and picked up a book of short stories I'd never read after borrowing it from my dad. So far, I've managed to read three tales-

1. The Lottery Ticket (by Anton Chekov) -
Could never figure out why Chekov was known as master of the short story as a kid. Weaned as I was on Saki and Jeffrey Archer, I always thought a good short story has to have a twist in the end. It was only later that I realized, the beauty of a Chekov story was in its telling, in its humanity. These days though, even Chekov doesn't move me.

2. How The Camel Got Its Hump (Rudyard Kipling)The only stuff I've read of Kipling are his poems, and an essay or two. (Nope, I didn't read Jungle Book) And this little tale bemused me - not because it was so simplistic, but what was it doing in a "Classic Short Stories" compilation anyway?

3. The Open Window (Saki)
Hadn't read a piece by Saki for a long time, and this one really surprised me. Even the twist in the tale (slanted reference very much intended) managed to steer clear of cliche and it wasn't so bloody pretentious anyway.

But reading these stories reinforces my belief that the literature of the 20th century is Science Fiction/Fantasy. Nothing compares to the genre's breadth. And it's a pity that people steer clear of the vast body that is available today. If you want pulp (a la Da Vinci Code), read Isaac Asimov's Robot series. Is it social commentary you're after? Read Robert Heinlein. What about romance? You'll find all you want in fantasy. This list can go on and on.