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A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: From the Man Booker Prize-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Lincoln in the Bardo

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Tolstoy wrote, "If once we admit---be it only for an hour or in some exceptional case---that anything can be more important than a feeling of love for our fellows, then there is no crime which we may not commit with easy minds. The result is an uptick in our attentiveness; subtly rebuffed by the story, we get, we might say, a new respect for its truthfulness.

En ambos casos, puede que sea un tema de salud pública; poca gente sería capaz de digerir mis escritos o mis guisos. Not so sure anymore, of my views, and reminded that my view-maker is always a little bit off: it’s limited, it’s too easily satisfied, with too little data. Saunders himself notes later in his reading the accidental nature of happiness: “Happiness is a gift, a conditional gift. Because, in this book, Saunders goes through short stories by the Russian greats, and teaches us the elements of reading, understanding, and writing. All this is well and good, but as Saunders astutely points out in “A Swim in a Pond in the Rain,” Ivan is an unreliable narrator.Reading short stories with George Saunders over my shoulder helping me to appreciate and unpack them is now the only way I want to read short stories? In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years.

It is about knowing that life is full of tragedy, but feeling that a person cannot do much but live in full swing. If we are moved, Turgenev has, via this story that claims that emotional power is the highest aim of art and can be obtained even in the face of clumsy craft, demonstrated that very thing. Por otra parte, si todas las pelotas son atrapadas de la misma manera, la tensión inicial se va perdiendo; el lector espera que cada malabar sea más emocionante, menos previsible que el anterior.

What the protagonist is really talking about is the fact that what brings true meaning to life is not happiness, but the good we do to others—and also the bad we leave behind. He's largely considered the modern master of the short story and his prose is at once gorgeous and experimental.

So the first heads-up to future readers is not to expect this to be a collection of “best” or “favorite” Russian classic stories, accompanied by a “how-to-read/interpret” commentary.i reviewed each story on Goodreads separately, then added comments after reading Saunders's essay on each story. Un efecto íntimo, probablemente diferente para cada uno de nosotros, escritores y lectores, que nos ayuda a ser un poquito mejores después de cada lectura.

Chekhov’s “Gooseberries” is also a story about beauty, about the importance of beauty in life, and its nature.

From the very first page to the last I felt like an eager student, learning for the sake of learning. Also what seeming digressions can add to the story--sometimes the digression is where the story really is.

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