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, July 15, 2014

"A Tiny Feast" by Chris Adrian (April 20, 2009, in The New Yorker)

Yesterday I read a very interesting post from the wonderful people at The Huffington Post listing what are said to be ten great short stories they think few have read.  Of the ten author's whose works are listed,I have previously read only Vladimir Nabakov and Nadine Gordimer.   Of the ten stories, I could find four online.  One of those four was the just flat out fascinating tremendously enthralling story by Chris Adrian, "A Tiny Feast" which you can read in the public area of The New Yorker (I will include a link at the end of this post and there is one in The Huffington Post article.)

I really like stories about fairies, little people, the other world inhabitants, maybe this is part of why I am drawn to Irish writers like Sheridan Le Fanu and Lord Dunsanny.  The Irish were in the 19th century drawn to stories about evil fairies stealing children partially in response to the famine.  I think both writers would love Chris Adrian's story about two fairies, a couple, who have a human child as a pet.  The male fairy stole it from it's parents and substituted  a hobgoblin for him.  He meant it as a gift for his wife.  One of the very fun and marvelous aspect of this story was how very married the fairies seem when the wife, when she discovers the boy is ill, starts tearing into her husband over what a lousy gift he has given her.  

I totally don't want to spoil this story so I say just that the boy turns out to have leukemia and has to go an extensive chemo therapy routine.  It is how the fairies react to this that makes the story so great. 

Here is a sample of Adrian's charming prose -

"They were in the hospital, not far from the park on the hill under which they made their home, in the middle of the night—early for them, since they slept all day under the hill and had taught the boy to do the same, but the doctors, Beadle and Blork, were obviously fatigued. The four of them were sitting at a table in a small windowless conference room, the doctors on one side, the parents on the other. The boy was back in his room, drugged with morphine, sleeping peacefully for the first time in days. The doctors were explaining things, earnestly and patiently, but Titania was having trouble following along.

“A boy should not be sick,” she said suddenly to Dr. Blork, cutting him off as he was beginning to describe some of the side effects of the treatment they were proposing. “A boy should play—that is his whole purpose.”

Link to the story

Author bio

Chris Adrian, M.D., M.Div., M.F.A. 

Chris Adrian has written three novels: Gob's Grief, The Children's Hospital, and The Great Night. In 2008, he published A Better Angel, a collection of short stories. His short fiction has also appeared in The Paris Review, Zoetrope, Ploughshares, McSweeney's, The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories, and Story. He was one of 11 fiction writers to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009.Adrian completed his Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Florida in 1993. He received his M.D. from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2001. He completed a pediatric residency at the University of California, San Francisco, was a student at Harvard Divinity School, and is currently in the pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at UCSF. He is also a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. 

There is a story by Adrian in 20 Under 40.  - from The New Yorker and I am looking forward to reading it soon.

Mel u

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