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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What are the chances? (Prose)

In an era in which air travelers compare notes on how best to prevent their seatmates from making casual conversation (the eyeshade! the earplugs! the open magazine!) it seems far less likely that one passenger would tell another (as happens in Tolstoy's "The Kreutzer Sonata") a long, tormented account of how sexual jealousy ruined his marriage and his life. Perversely, it's more likely that someone might "share" this confession with a national TV audience. Now that anyone who talks for more than a few seconds—that is, anyone who prevents us from talking for more than a few seconds—is generally regarded as a bore, what are the chances that a group of gentlemen will gather before a fire to exchange the detailed histories of long-past love affairs, as they do in Chekhov's "On Love"?

Francine Prose, Reading Like A Writer

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