Best Short Stories – Master and Man

If you’re a writer you’ll understand that I read. A lot. Especially when I go through a reading-retreat. Those times when it feels like I’ve been holding my breath for too long and really need to breathe. I think you’ll also understand that I read books about writing. One of the best I’ve ever read is A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders. It’s based on the way he teaches writing at Syracuse. I have to say that the first chapter was kind of confusing but once I got it, the book was brilliant. No, this isn’t about the book – I’ll post about that another time and link these posts. This is about one of the short stories Saunders uses in the book to teach about writing.

The short story I have in mind is Master and Man, written by Leo Tolstoy in 1895.** Have you ever had the experience of reading something and when you finish, you are speechless. Believe me, that is not a usual occurrence for me – after reading or otherwise – but when I finished this story, I put the book down and said nothing. I thought about it for weeks. I was preoccupied, distracted, and thoroughly in love with Tolstoy’s writing, the narrative arc, the use of repetition, the description … It was as if everything had come togeher in one not-very-short, short story.

I’ve been yearning to talk about Master and Man with other writers ever since. How about any of you? Have you read it? Will you read it? Want to Zoom? Please leave a comment and I’ll set something up for mid-December or after the New Year.

**You’ll find an e-copy with narration at Project Gutenberg, available as a printed book, or included in Saunders’ book.

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