See the Other Side

By 2007.03.09 tags: . 1 Comment»

Good story in the March 12 NewYorker: “See the Other Side” by Tatyana Tolstaya. Actually not just a good story, it’s a great one-especially considering how short it is. The first paragraph or so you think probably it’s just another one of those boring New Yorker stories about nothing. But her train picks up speed mighty quick, and at the end she freaking nails it. Never read anything quite like it. Raymond the Russian says one of the best -known writers in Russia right now. And yeah, she’s related to Leo Tolstoy.

Once you read that Tolstaya story, re-read it asking “how the fuck does she do it?” It’s honest, of course. But technically it has to do with repetition, that is, repetition-with-variations., and with each repetition a deepening echo. This is a technique more common in music and poetry than prose. I’m thinking it might work in radio too. Imagine the story as a radio piece.

“The tomb of Dante, exiled from his native Florence. The tomb of Theodorich. The mausoleum of Galla Placidia, sister of Flavius Honorius, the very man who made Ravenna the capital of the Western Empire. Fifteen centuries passed. Everything changed. Dust gathered; the mosaics crumbled. What was once important is now unimportant; what once excited has vanished in the sands. The sea itself has receded, and where merry green waves once splashed there are wastelands, vineyards, silence.” –Tatyana Tolstaya

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Comment (1)


Thanks for bring it to our attentions.

The scales fell from my eyes.
I could see; if just momentarily.

Kudos to Jamey Gambrell for the translation. I cannot imagine its impact in Tatyana’s native language.

Comment added by Jack R. Box on 03.18.09

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