After The Dance, Arthur Conan Doyle, books, Charles Dickens, Guy de Maupassant, Harriet Beecher Stowe, How the Camel got its Hump, Leo Tolstoy, literature, O'Henry, Rudyard Kipling, Saki, Sherlock Holmes, The Distinguished Stranger, The Ideal Family, The Lamplighter, The Last Leaf, The Lighthouse Keeper of Aspin Wall, The Lottery Ticket, The Necklace, The Open Window, The Redheaded League, The Selfish Giant, The Three Strangers, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Useless Beauty
This book would be the second and the last book that I managed to finish before the end of 2012. Various reasons and excuses kept me from updating this blog for the past few books, but I refuse to let myself leave this blog dormant. So here’s what I thought about the book as a whole:
The first two short stories really get you hooked to the book, but this only helps you push past the next 7 or so stories. Then you drag yourself through stories that intermittently show a glimmer of brilliance but are either too long or too antiquated to hold your interest (at least in my case!).
‘The Open Window’ by Saki is one of the best short stories that I have ever read. The entire plot hangs on the very last sentence. It is sheer brilliance, really! And years later, even if you forget the entire story, you will remember that one last sentence. You ask me what that sentence is? Well, you will have to read the entire story to really appreciate it.
One of my all time favourite short stories, scratch that, my all time favourite short story is ~ ‘The Last Leaf’. The hopeless story is one of great tragedy, yet it has hope, love and greatness all mixed at a level that the sad and happy almost exactly cancel each other out.
‘The Lottery Ticket’ was something I had read as a little girl and re-reading it was not all that exciting. ‘How the Camel got its Hump’ was another such story from my school textbook which I was happy to finish reading as soon as possible! ‘The Selfish Giant’ on the other hand, is one of those stories that I can never stop loving a little more, each time I read it!
Although the tragedy in ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant was something I could not stop admiring, the story of ‘Useless Beauty’ seemed rather drab in contrast. And, Leo Tolstoy’s ‘After the Dance’ was a decent read, but nothing striking in it for me (but maybe I was already too far in love with the first two short stories to really appreciate any other story!).
One other story that stood out in the collection would be ‘The Distinguished Stranger’. The alien visiting the earth is of the opinion that the Trees are the smartest species on planet Earth; can’t say he got it completely wrong!
‘Miss Katy-did And Miss Cricket’ comes from the famed Author of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’. The story highlights the stupidity of differentiating people by the colour of their skin by juxtaposing such distinctions in the Animal (or rather, the Insect)) world!
‘The Red-headed League’ had that classical touch of Arthur Conan Doyle, which I honestly believe is the writer’s and hence the Sherlock Holmes Series’ greatest defect ~ he hides some very crucial fact about the story till the very end when Sherlock Holmes points out his observations and thus succeeds in convincing the reader into believing that they were indeed quite foolish not to have realised that simple fact.
I shall restrict my statement on ‘The Lamplighter’ by saying that it was not one of my favourite Charles Dickens story! ‘The Three Strangers’ by Thomas Hardy was still better although by the end of it, the reader kind of ends up figuring it all out! I do not want to comment much on ‘The Ideal Family’ or ‘The Lighthouse Keeper of Aspin Wall’ since I barely remember the story now.
When all is said and done, I would still advice you to read it once because my opinion counts too little in the face of the fact that these are, after all, classic short stories!