Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Shock Tactics" by Saki

"Shock Tactics" by Saki (1913, 6 pages)

I am developing a fondness for Saki's short stories (Hector Munro-1870 to 1916-UK).    Whenever East of the Web:  Short Stories selects one of his stories as the story of the day, I read it.    This will be the 9th story by Saki I have posted on.     I have posted some biographical data in earlier posts on Saki you can read if you want.  

Yesterday I read Angus Wilson's  introduction to Collected Stories by Elizabeth Bowen and was very taken by a passing remark he makes about Saki.  He says  Saki's central characters or tricksters (he is the epitome of a trick ending short story writer)are malicious excessively refined  near but not quite adult children just learning that the adults in their world can be made objects of fun with a bit of ingenuity.    Maybe they have not seen the irony in the fact that they are utterly dependent on those the mock or have not thought through what they will be come one day.  

"Shock Tactics" is another very well written (I think once you read a few of his stories you could pick one out of a literary line up) satire on the moneyed class in Edwardian England.     Our central male character, a man about 20, is complaining to his friend that his mother reads all of his incoming mail.  (No E Mail, no phones  and even no Face Book in this era so letters were very important).    He has told her over and over not to but she persists in reading his mail, insisting he is too young to go be allowed to receive letters on his own.    His friend basically says what kind of man lets his mother read all of his mail and taunts him for it.

One day the two young men are conversing over the fact that a young lady wants to send the first man a letter but he does not feel comfortable doing that as his mother may not approve the content of the letter.    The world of Saki is also a world where people have plenty of time on their hands to debate such matters.   The friend comes up with a great way to break the mother of her habit of reading her son's mail.   I will let you learn the plot on your own if you wish.

I know Saki's stories are not considered great art.   I have not seen his work listed on any top short story lists.     To me his stories are fun, well written and  gentle satires of the human condition.     His stories are maybe a little predictable.   I will continue to read and post on them.  

"Shock Tactics" can be read online

if any have suggestions as to other short stories I might like, please leave a comment

Mel u


Suko said...

I will read this one by Saki, but I am still thinking about The Philanthropist and the Happy Cat.

Hannah said...

I am looking forward to opening my new Saki book while on a trip at the end of the month. Your posts makes his work seem so appealing!

Mel u said...

Suko-I hope you like this story also

LifetimeReader-Saki is a fun read and is a good "break" author-I hope you like him