Night Train: Very Short Stories by A. L. Snijders
Trade Paperback. Translated by Lydia Davis
Brevity is the soul of beauty in these tiny masterworks of short short fiction
Gorgeously translated by Lydia Davis, the miniature stories of A. L. Snijders might concern a lost shoe, a visit with a bat, fears of travel, a dream of a man who has lost a glass eye: uniting them is their concision and their vivacity. Lydia Davis in her introduction delves into her fascination with the pleasures and challenges of translating from a language relatively new to her. She also extols Snijders’s “straightforward approach to storytelling, his modesty and his thoughtfulness.”
Selected from many hundreds in the original Dutch, the stories gathered here―humorous, or bizarre, or comfortingly homely―are something like daybook entries, novels-in-brief, philosophical meditations, or events recreated from life, but―inhabiting the borderland between fiction and reality―might best be described as autobiographical mini-fables.
This morning at 11:30, in the full sun, I go up into the hayloft where I haven’t been for years. I climb over boxes and shelving, and open the door. A frightened owl flies straight at me, dead quiet, as quiet as a shadow can fly, I look into his eyes―he’s a large owl, it’s not strange that I’m frightened too, we frighten each other. I myself thought that owls never move in the daytime. What the owl thinks about me, I don’t know.