Sunday, July 4, 2010
A Short Story on Sunday: The Open Window by Saki
The first short story I remember reading and loving is The Open Window by Saki. H H Munro wrote under the pseudonym of Saki and he is an absolute short story master. For me The Open Window is everything a good short story should be: it is short to start with, only a couple of pages, and is insightful and above all entertaining. I found a copy online if you are interested in reading it. I read this one originally as a teen and it inspired me to read more short stories.
A couple of months ago I bought The Collected Short Stories of Saki from the Book Depository for a couple of dollars. It is a wonderful collection and I dip into it when I want a break from my current read. His style is a bit like PG Wodehouse or Somerset Maugham. There is lots of cutting social observation, mixed with humour. Another good one from the collection is "Sredni Vashtar." This story follows a common theme amongst some of Saki's stories. Namely the plight of a child who has lost his parents and is raised by one or more unkind relative. My understanding is that this mirrors Munro's own experience as a child. Here is a taste:
Conradin hated her with a deperate sincerity which he was perfectly able to mask. Such few pleasures as he could contrive for himself gained an added relish from the likelihood that they would be displeasing to his guardian, and from the realm of his imagination she was locked out - an unclean thing, which should find no entrance. p.117 of The Collected Short Stories of Saki
There are well over 100 short stories in this collection and I have not read them all. But I enjoy picking them up from time to time for something different.