Get Shorty

Ramanand passed me the 55-word-limit-short-story baton and here is an attempt:

Am a ten pointer. Doesn’t mean that it’s been easy. My neighbors (let’s call them ‘R’ and ‘P’ for now), cheap scorers, but so popular still; seen everywhere, unlike me (sigh). Me, gotta wait for you to complete me. Ah, there you are! come now, lets append ourselves to ‘art’ near that double word score.

My love affair with short stories began with Doordarshan’s Mitti Ke Rang, which used to adapt the best short stores from the likes of Chekhov, O’Henry, Maxim Gorky, Guy de Maupassant, etc. into 30 minute episodes. This was when I first heard that short stories were a different genre altogether.

Earlier, I had tried my hand (or rather, Akka had lead my hand) into some Panchatantra and other Hindu mythological tales. Later, when I did venture into the world of short stories myself, I was amazed at the depth, creativity, storytelling, philosophy, characterization, and everything else that makes a great short story, not to mention the proverbial twist in the end. I am still to see a short story which anticipates that the reader is expecting a twist in the end, and comes up with a double twist, or no twist at all. To top that, this story must be a part of a compendium which has twists/no-twists in a calculated order to snare the reader throughout the book. Just a game-theoretic idea.

Of all the authors I have tried, I have been most impressed by Roald Dahl, Maxim Gorky, and Jeffrey Archer. Rahl is black, dark, and creates an air of eerie pathos that kind of tells me what horror writing is all about. Gorky, the few stories I have read: they were abstract, and created visual images that were beyond the ordinary. I find it very hard to capture that imagery into words now. As for Archer, he is the master of feel-good cheesy stories with his standard elements – wine tasting, courtrooms, bankers, good looking men and women, Oxbridge, etc. Have read all of his, and liked most of them.

10 thoughts on “Get Shorty

  1. Hi Teju,

    Awesome job!! I am very very impressed. :)) Should we try and pass on the baton to Samba!!! (I am sorry Samba, seem to be picking on your long comments a lot now a days)…

    What about Masti Venkatesh Iyengar. His short stories are also awesome. Gives a great insight into human characteristics. Chittamma, English Caption..etc. Last time I was in Bangalore, myself and Shashi we had gone to Ankita Pustaka Bhandara and I bought the whole set. Also this time, Shashi told me that I should read Jayanth Kaikini’s short stories and they are pretty good too. Some of they were very good, some were okay.

    And to end this note, you cannot forget O’Henry. He is the Guru of all short story writers. Can never forget – Gift of the Magi or The last leaf.

    Hope to see more short stories in the future (as time permits of course).


  2. O’Henry short stories are terrific. The 2 that you mentioned + a few others which I find memorable are ‘one on thanksgiving’ and the other that the 2 friends meet after 20 years ‘simple kalla police’ with a twist. (can’t recall the names though). I hav e also enjoyed reading Ruskin Bond.

    Teju, you forget Godel,Escher, Bach. spoiler warning:
    The twist, double twist, and short story { he actually explains how to make a long story ( or what appears to be a long story) short } and numerous other techniques covered in that book.

    It is Quite nice to see it getting its 10 seconds of fame. Kyuunki kyuu ke bina jitna mushkil heh nahe, na munkin heh.

  3. hey teju … nice one abt short stories …

    I like short stories a LOT … Thanks to you for introducing me to Roald Dahl … awesome …

    Have read Saki, Gorky, Archer and some by Stephen King also …

    “Everything’s Eventual” by Stephen King is a good read … liked it a lot …

    Ofcourse Archers stuff been very enjoyable too …

    hmmm … thinking … maybe the shortening attention span is also a factor in liking short stories … just wondering …

    was reading UR Anantha Murthy’s short stories (kannada) recently … kinda enjoyed 🙂 wanna read more kannada stuff

  4. @Akka: Its a pity that my Kannada reading skills are not even a tenth as good as yours, or Appa’s. But I have it on my to-read list. Will start with Bairappa, and slowly move over to the other greats like Masti and of course, Karanth (have heard too much about his stories to let them go without experiencing them).

    @Richie: That story is “After Twenty Years,” and it was quite an experience listening to our English teacher teach that in SSLC. Awesome stuff. Great visual description. Naga and I had made a pact that we would meet under the NHS entrance dome on Septermber 5th 2015 (after 20 years). We will see how that goes.

    @Potnis: Maybe it is the shortening attention span, or maybe its just another genre where some people shine. Will try Anantmurthy when my Kannada reading starts.

    @Ramanand: Thank you twice.

  5. Whao…nice story dude! Hope you continue to churn out more…

    Guy de Maupussant is another good author who excels in the short story domain.

    Of course, Stephen King impresses both in short, novella & long form. Just wondering whether there is anyone similar…

  6. Hoon kano,
    I used to like “Mitti Ke Rang” a lot. I too had a go at most of the childhood short-stories you’d mentioned, but missed out on the English ones. Nice thoughts – I too feel like taking up O’Henry, Archer, Dalh and the likes, sometime in life.

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