He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

The Blog

  • The Children of Hurin: J.R.R. Tolkien image of tag icon

    So yes, I admit, I’m a sucker for Tolkien (maybe it’s the triple initials). I read the trilogy plus the prequel The Hobbit back in fourth grade, though I haven’t read all of them every year since then, like my brother has. And Tolkien’s most recent posthumous offering, The Children of Hurin, which was compiled […]

    Read More
  • Litblog Co-op Spring Reading image of tag icon

    The Spring READ THIS! selection has been revealed at the Litblog Co-op, and not only does the short story collection have one of the best titles ever, even the publisher has a cool name.

    Read More
  • Prizes, Prizes, Everywhere image of tag icon

    The new Man Booker prize – the international version, since the normal version  bars all authors outside the British Commonwealth, has announced its shortlist. And with the caliber of writers on the list, judging the winner will not be a matter of parsing levels of talent – everyone on the list has plenty of that […]

    Read More
  • Jonathan Lethem Live image of tag icon

    So Edward Champion’s April Fools’ Day lampoon of Jonathan Lethem – that Lethem was going on a five-year reading tour – wasn’t that far off that mark. Lethem is reading at four venues just here in Los Angeles to promote his latest comedic novel, You Don’t Love Me Yet, but I think the reading last […]

    Read More
  • Reflections on a Year of Blogging image of tag icon

    BookFox has nearly reached the ripe old age of One year, and, as I look back on my year of blogging, I find it interesting how this form of writing has affected my other writing. In addition to blogging, I am a short story writer. When it’s all added up, I have written fewer fiction […]

    Read More
  • Roundup First Novels image of tag icon

    David Quammen has the uncommon knack of turning arcane biological knowledge into intriguing narratives. But, alas, his newest book (The Long Follow: J. Michael Fay’s Epic Trek across the Last Great Forests of Central Africa) is AWOL. Chapters Indigo doesn’t list a publication date, and Booktopia lists it as March 2007. Unfortunately, the prognosis is […]

    Read More
  • My Diverse Week in Books image of tag icon

    Last week I wasn’t very busy posting, but I was busy reading. I read three books – the first a collection of short stories by Alice Munro called Runaway. It’s easy to see why she receives such acclaim as a writer – it’s because she pens such classic stories, ones that transcend her Canadian place […]

    Read More
  • The Newest Murakami image of tag icon

    Just received the review copy of Haruki Murakami’s new novel After Dark, coming out May 8th. It’s a slim 191 pages, a middle length between his novellas (Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973) and the heftier works (Wind Up Bird Chronicle and Dance, Dance, Dance). Can’t wait to give it a read.

    Read More
  • John Banville with Tara Ison image of tag icon

    Even though the library spokesperson twice referred to him as “John Banfield”, Mr. Banville, aka Benjamin Black, delivered a wryly funny and occasionally self-deprecating performance last night at the Los Angeles Public Library. After beginning the night with a self-comparison to Krusty the Clown, he managed to insert his name so many times into the […]

    Read More