Magazine article World Literature Today

Two Flash Nonfictions

Magazine article World Literature Today

Two Flash Nonfictions

Article excerpt

The Perfect Note

I'm fascinated by the story of that man whose wife asked him to write a note for their son who had been absent from school. While she hurries to finish preparing to leave for school with their child, the man wrestles with the note at the dining room table: he removes a comma, puts it back in, crosses out a sentence and writes a new one, until the woman, who is waiting at the door, loses her patience, rips the page from his hands, and without even sitting down scribbles a few lines, signs her name, and runs out. It was only a school note, but for the husband, who was a well-known writer, there was no such thing as a harmless text, and even the most insignificant thing posed problems of efficiency and style. He wanted to write the perfect note, the man confessed in an interview, and I'm not surprised, because a writer is someone who faces the failure of writing and makes this failure, so to speak, his mission, while others simply compose. We can stretch this anecdote out and imagine someone who, noose in hand, about to hang himself from a roof beam, prepares to write a few parting lines, picks up a pen, and writes the proverbial phrase that he doesn't blame anyone for his death. Up to that point things are going well, but he decides to add a few lines to apologize to his loved ones, and, because he is a writer, he stops composing and starts writing. Two hours later we find him sitting at the table, noose forgotten on a chair, crossing out adjectives, and revising the same sentence over and over to give it just the right tone. When he finishes he's exhausted, hungry, and the last thing he wants to do is commit suicide. Style has saved his life, but perhaps it was because of style that he wanted to end it; perhaps one of the reasons for his action was the conviction that he was a failed writer, and perhaps he is, as are all those who intend to write the perfect note, which are the only ones worth reading. They write to justify that they write, the pen in one hand and a noose in the other.

A Stupid Dictionary

I bought it years ago in an old bookstore, whose owner warned me: "It's a stupid dictionary. If you're interested, I'll give it to you for a good price" I bought it because it was cheap and I was drawn to the idea of owning a stupid dictionary. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.