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Fast Fiction: Book Talk

In Richard Mallinson’s story a mystery emerges when the talk turns to books.

'What are you reading?'

'Oh, it's just a little something by P G Wodehouse.'

'What do you mean, a little something?'

'Oh, it's that slight thing he wrote in 1956, set in France.'

'French Leave? Is that the one?'

'Yes, I'm afraid so.'

'Hm, no wonder you're embarrassed. You ought to be reading James Joyce, Camus, Faulkner, Beckett or even Burroughs.'

'But I've read them . . . well, most of them.'

'Then why not read them again?'

'Oh, must I? I don't think I have the energy left. Perhaps I'll try some Hemingway again . . . A Farewell To Arms, will that do?'

'No, no, of course not - that's just middlebrow stuff.’

'What about Borges, then? His Fictions, as he calls them?'

'Hm, perhaps . . . but you'd be much better off with Kafka.'

'Who were you talking to?'

'Nobody.'

'Surely I heard you talking to somebody.'

'Well, there's nobody here.'

'What's that under the carpet, then?'

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