Sunday, November 21, 2021

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life

The first section of A Swim in a Pond in the Rain drove me crazy. Small sections of a story were read and analyzed. I did not have a chance to get into the story before shifting gears to analysis. Luckily, the remainder of the book presented the entire stories before analyzing them. The works are all by master Russian writers. The author's background is in creative writing workshops. However, the analysis is beneficial for both writers and readers. Since most of these are translated stories, there is also mention of times when some context may be lost in translation.

The storytellers have honed their skills in the pre-Soviet days. There are themes of the struggles of common men. Most are firmly in the realism camp. However, there was one fun story about a person who had lost his nose and had it show up in strange locations. A good story follows an event that changes the life of characters that we care about. Most background and description should help us to know the characters and bring out the story at hand. The story may even behave differently than an author intended. A good writer would let it do what it needs to do.

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