Familiar though his name may be to us, the storyteller in his living immediacy is To present someone like Leskov as a storyteller does not mean bringing him. This special first print run of The Storyteller is dedicated to my UK fans you are the reason I keep writing and keep visiting. So many of you. Download the PDF and Audio Book. You can download Bozo and the Storyteller in a few ways: Alternatively, you can open and download the pdf here.
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Then, answer the questions that follow. The Storyteller by Saki. It was a hot afternoon, and the railway carriage was correspondingly sultry, and the next stop was. THE STORYTELLER. Saki. It was a hot afternoon, and inside the train it was steamy. The next stop was Templecombe, which was almost an hour ahead. In one. It was a hot afternoon, and the railway carriage was correspondingly sultry, and the next stop was at Templecombe, nearly an hour ahead. The occupants of the.
There are chintz couches with lace doilies on the back, photographs on top of a dusty mantel, a collection of Hummel figurines on a shelf. Josef Weber is everyone's favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. Here I was, trying desperately to shed my religion so I could blend in, and it turned out being Jewish was truly in my blood; that I was the descendant of a Holocaust survivor. We chat — about the weather, about Eva, about my favorite recipes. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. However, for war crimes prior to we can only identify the perpetrators, denaturalize them, and deport them for immigration violations…then get European countries to prosecute them. I brought artisan loaves to her doctors.
The smaller girl made no actual comment on the story, but she had long ago recommenced a murmured repetition of her favourite line. The children's momentarily-aroused interest began at once to flicker; all stories seemed dreadfully alike, no matter who told them. There was a wave of reaction in favour of the story; the word horrible in connection with goodness was a novelty that commended itself.
It seemed to introduce a ring of truth that was absent from the aunt's tales of infant life. There was a medal for obedience, another medal for punctuality, and a third for good behaviour. They were large metal medals and they clicked against one another as she walked.
No other child in the town where she lived had as many as three medals, so everybody knew that she must be an extra good child. It was a beautiful park, and no children were ever allowed in it, so it was a great honour for Bertha to be allowed to go there. The aunt permitted herself a smile, which might almost have been described as a grin. For that reason the Prince never kept a sheep in his park or a clock in his palace. The storyteller paused to let a full idea of the park's treasures sink into the children's imaginations; then he resumed:.
She had promised her aunts, with tears in her eyes, that she would not pick any of the kind Prince's flowers, and she had meant to keep her promise, so of course it made her feel silly to find that there were no flowers to pick.
There was a murmur of approval at the excellence of the Prince's decision; so many people would have decided the other way. There were ponds with gold and blue and green fish in them, and trees with beautiful parrots that said clever things at a moment's notice, and humming birds that hummed all the popular tunes of the day. Bertha walked up and down and enjoyed herself immensely, and thought to herself: Just then an enormous wolf came prowling into the park to see if it could catch a fat little pig for its supper.
The first thing that it saw in the park was Bertha; her pinafore was so spotlessly white and clean that it could be seen from a great distance. Bertha saw the wolf and saw that it was stealing towards her, and she began to wish that she had never been allowed to come into the park.
She ran as hard as she could, and the wolf came after her with huge leaps and bounds. She managed to reach a shrubbery of myrtle bushes and she hid herself in one of the thickest of the bushes. The wolf came sniffing among the branches, its black tongue lolling out of its mouth and its pale grey eyes glaring with rage. Bertha was terribly frightened, and thought to herself: Bertha was trembling very much at having the wolf prowling and sniffing so near her, and as she trembled the medal for obedience clinked against the medals for good conduct and punctuality.
The wolf was just moving away when he heard the sound of the medals clinking and stopped to listen; they clinked again in a bush quite near him. My timer will go off in three minutes, then I will have to go back into the kitchen. Weber replies. His words sound as if he is biting them off a string: My gaze locks on his.
Certainly Mr. My grandma is always talking about how at her age, her friends are dropping like flies.
I imagine for Mr. Weber, the same is true. From the kitchen comes the sound of the timer buzzing; it wakes up Eva, who begins to bark. Almost simultaneously there is a sweep of approaching lights through the glass windows of the bakery as the Advance Transit bus slows at its corner stop. His face softens. Call me Josef. I notice that Mr. Weber — Josef — has left behind the little black book he is always writing in when he sits here. It is banded with elastic.
I grab it and run into the storm. I step right into a gigantic puddle, which soaks my clog. I hold up the black book and walk toward him. He looks startled. This is just a place to keep all my thoughts.
They get away from me, otherwise. The driver of the Advanced Transit bus honks twice. We both turn in the direction of the noise. In a town the size of Westerbrook, which was derived of Yankee Mayflower stock, being Jewish made my sisters and I anomalies, as different from our classmates as if our skin happened to be bright blue.
I went to Hebrew school because my sisters did, but when the time came to be bat mitvahed, I begged to drop out. I used to sit at Friday night services listening to the cantor sing in Hebrew and wondered why Jewish music was full of minor chords.
My parents did, however, fast on Yom Kippur and refused to have a Christmas tree. To me, it seemed they were following an abridged version of Judaism, so who were they to tell me how and what to believe?
I said this to my parents when I was lobbying to not have a bat mitzvah. My father got very quiet. Then he sent me to my room without supper, which was truly shocking because in our household, we were encouraged to state our opinions, no matter how controversial. It was my mother who sneaked upstairs with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for me. I have a problem going to Hebrew School.
This was a seemingly random observation. She had been born in Poland and still had an accent that made it sound like she was always singing. And yes, Grandma Minka wore sweaters, even when it was ninety degrees out, but she also wore too much blush and leopard prints. It took me a moment to realize what my mother was telling me. How had I made it to age twelve without knowing this?
Why would my parents have hidden this information from me? We had studied the Holocaust in social studies class. It was hard to imagine the textbook pictures of living skeletons matching the plump woman who always smelled like lilacs, who never missed her weekly hair appointment, who kept brightly colored canes in every room of her house so that she always had easy access to one.
She was not part of history. She was just my grandma. But your father, he started going. I think it was his way of processing what happened to her. Here I was, trying desperately to shed my religion so I could blend in, and it turned out being Jewish was truly in my blood; that I was the descendant of a Holocaust survivor.
Frustrated, angry, and selfish, I threw myself backward against my pillows. It has nothing to do with me. If she had been in a concentration camp during World War II, she must have been a completely different person at the time. The picture book was of Cinderella, but she must have been thinking of something else, because her tale was about a dark forest and monsters; a trail of oats and grain.
I kept reaching for it, pulling at her sweater. At one point, the wool rode up just far enough for me to be distracted by the faded blue numbers on her inner forearm. I had memorized my telephone number the previous year in preschool, so that if I got lost, the police could call home.
The next day, when Josef Weber comes into the bakery at 4: You can smell it, when an artisanal bread comes out of the oven: I glance with pride at the variegated crumb.
We chat — about the weather, about Eva, about my favorite recipes. We chat, as Mary closes up the bakery around us.
We chat, even as I dart back and forth into the kitchen to answer the call of various timers. There are even moments during our conversation that when I forget to disguise the pitted side of my face by ducking my head or letting my hair fall in front of it. But Josef, he is either too polite or too embarrassed to mention it. Or maybe, just maybe, there are other things about me he finds more interesting.
His hand shakes as he reaches for his mug of coffee. The pocked drawstring of skin flapping the corner of my right eye. The silver hatchmarks cutting through my eyebrow. The way my mouth tugs upward, because of the way my cheekbone healed. The bald notch at my scalp that no longer grows hair, that my bangs are brushed to carefully cover. The face of a monster. Maybe because loneliness is a mirror; and recognizes itself. My hand falls away, letting the curtain of my hair cover my scars again.
I just wish it were that easy to camouflage the ones inside me. To his credit, Josef does not gasp or recoil.
Steadily, he meets my gaze. He lives at the end of small cul-de-sac, and I am parked at the curb trying to concoct a reason that I might be dropping by when he knocks on the window of my car.
She dances around his feet in circles. I consider telling him that it is a coincidence, that I took a wrong turn. Or that I have a friend who lives nearby.
But instead, I wind up speaking the truth. His home is not decorated the way I would have expected. There are chintz couches with lace doilies on the back, photographs on top of a dusty mantel, a collection of Hummel figurines on a shelf. For fifty-one very good years and one not-so-good. This must have been the reason he started coming to grief group, I realize.
He takes the teabag from his mug and carefully wraps a noose around it on the bowl of the spoon. In fifty years, I never once forgot, but she never gave me the benefit of the doubt. Drove me crazy. Now, I would give anything to hear her remind me again. I felt like the biggest loser on earth.
And now I realize how lucky I was. He shakes his head. My gaze lands on a chess set on a sideboard behind Josef. The pieces are all carefully carved: I stare with even more admiration at the chessboard, with its seamless inlay of cherry and maple squares; at the tiny jeweled eyes of the mermaid.
I pick up the vampire and run my finger over the smooth, slick skull of the creature. Marta had no patience for the game. I look up at him. Josef becomes a regular at Our Daily Bread, and I spend hours at his house, learning chess. He teaches me to control the center of the board. To not give up any pieces unless absolutely necessary, and how to assign arbitrary point values to each knight and bishop and rook and pawn so that I can make those decisions.
As we play, Josef asks me questions.
Was my mother a redhead, like me? Did my father ever miss the restaurant industry, once he went into industrial sales? Did either of them ever get a chance to taste some of my recipes? It feels less like a wound; more like a poultice.
Two weeks later, Josef and I carpool to our next grief group meeting. We sit beside each other, and it is as if we have a subtle telepathy between us as the other group members speak. Sometimes he catches my gaze and hides a smile, sometimes I roll my eyes at him.
We are suddenly partners in crime. Today we are talking about what happens to us after we die. In Heaven and Hell people sit at banquet tables filled with amazing food, but no one can bend their elbows. I assume Josef will ignore her question, or shake his head, like usual. But to my surprise, he speaks. And everything is over. His blunt words settle like a shroud over the rest of us. I find him waiting in the hallway of the church. As if it were this easy.
Everyone is both of these at once. As if his words have heat behind them, my scar burns. I wonder if this has been my problem all along: I have come to the only viable conclusion: Josef is lying comatose in his bed. Or worse. My evenings are ordered to military precision, with me working a mile a minute to divide dough and shape it into hundreds of loaves; to have them proofed and ready for baking when the oven is free. The bakery itself becomes a living, breathing thing; each station a new partner to dance with.
Mess up on the timing, and you will find yourself standing alone while chaos whirls around you.
I find myself compensating in a frenzy, trying to produce the same amount of product in less time. Josef opens the front door.
He sneezes violently and wipes his nose with a white cloth handkerchief. Well, as you can see, I am still standing. He hesitates, his hand on the doorknob.
A twenty-five year old disfigured girl and a nonagenarian? I suppose there have been stranger duos. Now you must go back to work so that I can have a roll with my coffee.
Twenty minutes later, I am back in the kitchen, turning off a half dozen angry timers and assessing the damage caused by my hour AWOL. There are loaves that have proofed too much; the dough has lost its shape and sags to one side or the other. My output for the whole night will be affected; Mary will be devastated. I wish I could bake for my mother: I wish I could be the one to feed her.
But this. I look around the bakery kitchen. This, I can reclaim, by working the dough very briefly and letting it rise again. Mary, who at first is tight-lipped and angry at my reduced nightly output, slices open a ciabatta. When she asked what happened, I lied. I told her that I got a migraine and fell asleep for two hours. Then she picks up a slice of the bread, ready to spread it with strawberry jam. She points to the crumb. Artisanal bread is judged on its variegated crumb, other breads — like Wonder which is barely even a bread, nutritionally have uniform, tiny crumb.
The first visitors to our little miracle are the women who work in the shrine gift shop, who take a picture with the piece of bread between them. Then Father Dupree — the priest at the shrine — arrives. The door flies open and a reporter with frizzy red hair enters, trailed by a bear of a cameraman.
Then Harriet sticks her microphone in my face. The camera has a red light above its cyclopean eye, which blinks awake while filming. I stare at it, stricken by the thought of the whole state seeing me on the midday news. I drop my chin to my chest, obliterating my face, even as my cheeks burn with embarrassment. How much has he already filmed?
Just a glimpse of my scar before I ducked my head? Or enough to make children drop their spoons in their soup bowls; for their mothers to turn off the television for fear of giving birth to nightmares?
I take the Holy Stairs two at a time to the little grotto at the top of the hill. Is someone famous having coffee? I expect him to scoff, but instead Josef tilts his head, considering this. After our conversation about Heaven and Hell, I had assumed that he was an atheist too.
The Old Testament God. You must know about this, as a Jew. He is having a senile moment, I think. I am thinking five steps ahead. He makes me so strong that I cannot die even when I want to. I have had cancer, twice. I survived a car crash and a broken hip. I have even, God forgive me, swallowed a bottle of pills.
But I was found by a Seventh Day Adventist who happened to be passing out leaflets and saw me through the window, lying on the floor. And you can help me. I only ask you to let me show you mine. It strikes me that I know nothing about this man, except for what he has chosen to share with me. He presses it into my palm. He is dressed in the uniform of an SS guard, and he is smiling.
Toggle navigation. Read an excerpt. The Storyteller Sage Singer is a baker, a loner, until she befriends an old man who's particularly beloved in her community. About The Storyteller. A Conversation with Jodi about The Storyteller. A third of it takes place over seventy years ago. So what made me write it? Book club discussion questions for The Storyteller Sage has been a part of the grief group for three years.
Why has she stayed? The paradox of loss: What dramatic action did her mother take to ensure that Sage finished school? Obviously baking is more than a job to Sage p. How does Mary describe Josef Weber? Why was Sage so willing to take up with a married man? Does this matter, given what happens to her?
How do you think you would react? What request does Josef make of Sage? What do you think you would do?
The periodic pages in italics are a continuing story—a Gothic fairy tale. In what ways does it parallel the present day story? In what way does this frame story-within-a-story add to the moral dilemma Sage faces? Why does Sage go to the police station? Would you do the same?
Why or why not? When Jews were being taken by the Nazis, many Germans turned a blind eye. How easy would that be to do? Grandma Minka and her father were also bakers. How important are the family recipes? The baking of special breads? Is baking a metaphor for something else in this book?
Leo has a passion for his job as a Nazi hunter. Does Josef have the right to ask Sage to forgive him?