I. The Last Leaf  by O. Henry – ★★★★★
“The lonesomest thing in all the world is a soul when it is making ready to go on its mysterious, far journey“. Two female artists Sue and Johnsy rent a studio in Greenwich, New York when Johnsy gets pneumonia and becomes bed-ridden. As she stays in her bed, she starts obsessing over an ivy growing outside their house and says to Sue that she would be counting its fallen leaves and when the last leaf falls, so would she “fall”, i.e. die. Incidentally, the ivy has always been associated with fidelity, devotion, friendship, affection and everlasting life, and Johnsy’s strange prophecy is somehow becoming convincing as any seriously ill person is always listened to carefully, as though they already possess otherworldly knowledge, being so close to the “other side”. O. Henry uses a number of literary devices to bring this story to a satisfactory climax, and the ending is powerful and tear-jerking.
II. The Tunnel  by Friedrich Dürrenmatt – ★★★★★
“Each of his activities seemed a pretext designed to achieve order behind the façade of routine pursuits”. A twenty-four year old student makes his usual morning commute on a busy train when he decides to pay attention to “a little tunnel” that the train passes through. It is the first time he does so, but, to his surprise (given the speed of the train he took), the tunnel does not end, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, either. As the student sits and wonders, his thoughts start to linger on his own mental well-being, as well as on the “pointless” preoccupations of the passengers around him.Continue reading “Recent Reading: Short Stories from O. Henry, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, & Tobias Wolff”