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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Vronsky's Teeth" by Sheila Mannix

"Vronsky's Teeth"  by Sheila Mannix  (2010, 4 pages)

Emerging Irish Women Short Story Authors Week
March 23 to March 29
Irish Short Story Week Year Two
March 12 to April 11

I have decided to post on short stories by seven emerging Irish woman authors of short stories.  (My reasons for doing this are here).    My only advise so far to emerging writers is to suggest you start your own web page or blog as many people, including me, are more inclined to read and take seriously someone has at least gone to the trouble to set up a way for their readers to communicate with them and learn more about their work.  This is just my personal reaction and I do not know if others share this attitude or not.   

Irish Short Story Week is extended now for a full month to April 11, update to follow soon.

Sheila Mannix
"Now this is a week I will really
Sheila Mannix is from Youghal, County Cork Ireland.   She is working, and if "Vronsky's Teeth" is any evidence is of to a good start on a very interesting collection of short stories, The Russians, in which she will (to quote from the literary journal where it was published, Southward) " in which she samples, cites, recycles and détournes Russian literature of the nineteenth century in order to create new narratives".  OK this sounds great,  I admit my knowledge of French literary expressions is pretty limited so I did look up what a literary detournes might be.  It is a sort use of a narrative method and content in a way that closely follows the original but still stretches the form to create new narratives that are logical extensions of the old form.   I saw it as soon as I began to read this wonderful story.   "Vronsky's Teeth" is kind of Chekhov with the central character pushed further into madness by the brutality of Russian society than Chekhov might take him.   The central character, a forty two year old man operating a lift in a nice hotel starts out by telling his boss that he objects to being called a "lift boy".   The opening conversation of Vronsky and his boss is just so wonderful, funny, brilliant and cuts so deep that I feel compelled to quote it.

Look here,’ said his manager, ‘we appreciate your longstanding service, but it’s we who have reason to complain. You turn up late, if you deign to turn up at all, and then you spend your time delivering guests to the wrong floors. Your uniform is a disgrace; your hair is like a raven’s nest, and you’ve no teeth left from all the opium you smoke.’
Soloman was offended by this last remark. It was untrue to say he had no teeth left – he had one good tooth remaining at the front – and besides, it was the hotel’s fault.
‘If you paid me a better salary, I would have been able to afford dental treatment,’ he said.

The hotel where he works is all abuzz with the forthcoming arrival of Count Vronsky.   Everyone admires his beautiful white teeth, marvelous at the time in an older man.  

The lift boy sees himself as a great poet, an heir to Pushkin.  No one can appreciate his sheer brilliance which is why he has to do such menial work to survive.  

I really do not want to tell more of the really imaginative plot so I will leave the rest of the events untold.

I have read a bit of Chekhov, not nearly enough, and I was wondering if given this story with no author credit given would I think it was the work of Chekhov?  Maybe that would be my first guess if I was told it was from a very well known author but I would think it is pretty "edgy Chekhov"!

"Vronsky's Teeth" is a very good story, worthy of the tradition of Chekhov and Turgenev.  I hope to one day read her forthcoming collection, The Russians.

You can read the story in Southword.   Southword is the online literary journal of the Munster, Ireland Literature Center.   There are lots of stories by emerging writers on the journal, there are about ten issues online, as well as poems and reviews.   The webpage of the center should be treated as a resource for the Irish Short Story.

Mel u


Cait O'Connor said...

I have just been led to your blog while on a visit to Third Storey Window. What a delight! I am off to read more and have added you to my list!

Mel u said...

Cait O'Connor. I would love to have you join us, you can guest post on The Reading Life also, I looked at your beautiful blog which i now follow and you simply please must join us with your afinity for Ireland!

Suko said...

Great idea--to post about the work of emerging Irish women authors! Imagine living in Ireland, in a "County", and being a writer in this very green and magical place. This story about Count Vronsky sounds intriguing.

Mel u said...

I erased by accident a few comments from my blog so I am posting them myself-sorry for this, I wish blogger would install a confirm delete button

Caroline has left a new comment on your post ""Vronsky's Teeth" by Sheila Mannix":

I agree with your comment about setting up a blog and communicate with readers.
Especially genre writers do this a lot these days and the results are great for them as well as for the readers.
It could work for more serious literature as well.
But maybe those authors are more shy.