This story, for me, shows the value of the anecdote, a tittle-tattle tale overheard, misremembered or stolen, then worked into genius. The anecdote is one of the sources from which short stories derive their wonderful disreputableness. As we know, the greatest short stories have been written by women in faded print dresses drinking neat gin from chipped teacups, and by men possessing little more than a shabby overcoat and a hangover. They are the best of us. Gospodinov tells us about history, translation, love, and memory in a couple of pages. On a train.
First published in And Other Stories, Northwestern Universit Press, 2007