A couple of weekends ago we had a yard sale. My Mom hauled her stuff to our house to join in the fun. In clearing out some of her stuff, she came across a book called The Short Story and Its Writer edited by Ann Charters and published by St. Martin’s Press and asked if I’d be interested in it. I flipped through the table of contents: Joseph Conrad, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Jorge Luis Borges and on and on.
I took it because the thought of such a variety of short stories at my fingertips was exciting. I recently started writing short stories and want to read as many examples from the masters as I can to learn and for the sake of the reading itself.
The first thing I wanted to read was Sean O’Faolain’s piece How to Write a Short Story. It sounded like just what I needed. On the way to that piece I was waylaid by Borges. I had never read any of his stuff, but I’ve read that he is not to be missed. I started reading The End of the Duel. Crazy stuff. Things were moving along, I became more engaged in the story, and then, just before the climactic scene, the story ended. I was confused. It didn’t seem like the story should have ended. In fact, there was no punctuation.
The pages had been torn out.
I was going to page forward to find the other Borges story and the O’Faolain piece and wouldn’t you know, about forty pages total were missing, including those.
I couldn’t help but wonder if the pages had been taken by someone too lazy to lug around a giant anthology or if it was someone who couldn’t afford the book and needed those pages. Something tells me it’s more like the former because there are other chunks strategically missing, including a chunk of Heart of Darkness, Turgenev’s Byezhin Prairie, Kipling’s The Wish House and still others.
What an ass bite.
My hope is that whoever took the stories loved them so much that they couldn’t live without them. My fear is that those pages are in some land fill somewhere or were used to start a bonfire for homecoming.
Fortunately there are plenty of other stories in the book, so I guess I shouldn’t go complaining too loudly that the free book I got is incomplete.
This led me to wonder if anyone else ever experienced anything like this. Have you ever settled in to enjoy something only to find it was incomplete or other than expected?