Tuesday, January 11, 2011
"The Forbidden Buzzards" by Saki
This is the 6th short story by Saki (1870 to 1916-UK) that I have read and posted on. Most mornings I check the web page East of the Web:Short Stories to see what will turn up as their short story of the day. The web masters their must be very fond of Saki as they often pick one of his stories. (I checked today and found The Complete Stories of Saki runs to nearly 1000 pages in the Penguin Books Edition.) For Americans he is the English O Henry. By that I mean both basically write light stories with a twist ending. I think if you blind tested 100 reasonably well read people most could in fact ID these stories just by being told that those of Saki were written by an Englishman. To generalize based on my small sample, in the stories of O Henry life seems to play an ironic joke on the characters in the story. In the stories of Saki one of the people in the story plays a joke on one of the other people, often for no reason other than to have some fun at their expense. The stories of Saki I have read so far are all set among the "lower gentry" of Edwardian England. I have talked more about the background of Saki in my first post on him, "The Open Window" .
"The Forbidden Buzzards" is a fun story. It centers around conversations between three or four characters, just like his other stories. Our lead character is a match maker who seems interested himself in a young lady that a rich very full of himself member of the gentry seems interested in. The match maker figures out a way to be sure that the man and the woman are never alone together. It involves some rare buzzards (I think this may also be a satire on bird watchers of the time) and is really quite funny. Saki makes it easy for us to visualize his stories. He would have been quite a success as a writer for comedies for TV.
You can read "The Forbidden Buzzards" online here. It will take you less than five minutes and there is a pretty good change you will enjoy it. I do not have a systematic plan of reading all of Saki's stories (I can guess they are all kind of alike) but when one shows up as the short story of the day on East of the Web I will probably read and briefly post on it. I think Saki's stories could be taught to upper grade elementary school children. Probably at least one of his stories should be on the lists of life time planners. "The Forbidden Buzzards" is not deep, it is not a ground breaking work of art, it does not challenge us a lot, it is just fun and sometimes that is enough.