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A swim in a pond in the rain : in which four Russians give a master class on writing, reading, and life

Call Number

  • 891.708 S2574 2022 (CEN)

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Random House Trade Paperback edition.


English text with seven short stories translated from the Russian.

Publication Information

New York : Random House, 2022.

Physical Description

xii, 410 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm


"For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times. In his introduction, Saunders writes, 'We’re going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn’t fully endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art—namely, to ask the big questions, questions like, How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it?' He approaches the stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. The process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is a technical craft, but also a way of training oneself to see the world with new openness and curiosity. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a deep exploration not just of how great writing works but of how the mind itself works while reading, and of how the reading and writing of stories make genuine connection possible."--Publisher's webpage.


  • We begin
  • In the Cart, Anton Chekhov. A page at a time: thoughts on In the Cart ; Afterthought #1
  • The Singers, Ivan Turgenev. The heart of the story: thoughts on The Singers ; Afterthought #2
  • The Darling, Anton Chekhov. A pattern story: thoughts on The Darling ; Afterthought #3
  • Master and Man, Leo Tolstoy. And yet they drove on: Thoughts on Master and Man ; Afterthought #4
  • The Nose, Nikolai Gogol. The door to the truth might be strangeness: Thoughts on The Nose ; Afterthought #5
  • Gooseberries, Anton Chekhov. A swim in a pond in the rain: Thoughts on Gooseberries ; Afterthought #6
  • Alyosha the Pot, Leo Tolstoy. The wisdom of omission: Thoughts on Alyosha the Pot ; Afterthought #7
  • We end.

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