How Self Writes When She Reads a Short Story From The New Yorker

The New Yorker story: “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht

It begins:

I. The tiger

Having sifted through everything I have heard about the tiger and his wife, I can tell you that this much is fact: in April of 1941, without declaration or warning, the German bombs started falling over the city and did not stop for three days.

(Self pauses for thought: perhaps she can begin a story using timeline April 1941. But who of her acquaintance was alive at such a time? More important, who of her acquaintance can self interview so that her writing will have that necessary versimilitude? But, she digresses. Back to the story)

The tiger did not know that they were bombs.

(And neither does self know how she can write a story involving bombs. Whatever. Back to the story)

He did not know anything —

(Self now exceedingly struck by the fact that tiger is a “He.” Naturally, his gender should have been obvious from Sentence # 1, where it was mentioned that he had a wife, but the gender did not strike self as particularly crucial until this very moment. Veeery interesting! Back again to the story)

— beyond the hiss and screech of fighter planes passing overhead and the missiles falling, the bears bellowing in another part of the fortress, and the sudden silence of the birds.

(Self finds her focus disintegrating, overwhelmed by the details: the juxtaposition of fighter planes, bears, bellowing, and so forth and so on. She is, not to put too fine a point on it, completely flummoxed. Self senses there will be no writing today, alas!)

There was smoke and a terrible warmth, a gray sun rising and falling in what seemed like a matter of minutes, and the tiger, frenzied, dry-tongued, ran back and forth along the span of rusted bars.

(Self’s empathy aroused exceedingly by mention of the poor tiger’s exertions, dear blog readers!)

He was alone and he was hungry, and that hunger, coupled with the thunderous noise of bombardment, had burned in him a kind of awareness of his own death, an imminent and innate knowledge that he could neither dismiss nor accept.

And — this is quite an amazing story, dear blog readers. One full of power and mystery. Go read the whole thing: it’s in the June 8/15 issue.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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