Deal Me In – Week 28 Wrap Up


Below are links to new Deal Me In posts since out last update. Five new stories for your perusal…

I would prefer not to give too much away, but Dale read a great story – Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener”

James read Haruki Murakami and John Hersey this week, comparing their two stories “Firefly” and “A Game of Anagrams,” respectively. Will he find a connection? And which will he like best? Find out at

Katherine drew a wild card and decided to go with Leonid Andreyev’s story, “Lazarus,” making it the third(?) “twin” (two of us reading the same story) we’ve had this year. Find out what she thought of it at Will we be blessed with any “triplets” before the year is over? I guess remaining wildcards still at large do make at a possibility…

I read Vladimir Nabokov’s “That in Aleppo Once…” Trivia points go to anyone who knows from what Shakespeare play Vlad lifted that title. Or how to pronounce Vlad’s last name… 🙂

That’s it for now. See you next week!

“That in Aleppo Once…” By Vladimir Nabokov

Week 28 – Deal Me In Short Story Challenge


Driving home from work one day last week, I tuned into NPR and was listening to news from Syria and how the Syrian rebels were about to lose the city of Aleppo (can you find it in the map above?) back to the forces of President Assad. It was no surprise, then, when I drew my latest card for my Deal Me In challenge, it was the nine of spades, which I had assigned last December to Vladimir Nabokov’s famous short story, “That in Aleppo Once,” making this the umpteenth coincidence wrought by my Deal Me In reading the past three and a half years.

This was another difficult story for me, with its strange narrator relating the tale of his and, ostensibly, his wife’s flight from the advancing Germans in war-torn Western Europe. It is presented in the form of a letter to a friend, and explains in detail the chaos that war has wrought in his life and in his mind.

By the end of the story, the reader (well, this reader for certain) is unsure how much of the story is real and how much the narrator has imagined. The narrator himself, in fact, seems to waver back and forth between thinking himself rational and delusional. There are lines like, “It was at that moment that I suddenly knew for certain that she (his wife) had never existed at all.”

He also struggles with his wife’s suspected infidelities (again, real or imagined?, and how are we to know if we’re not sure this wife has even existed?!), and it could be argued that the story could be about jealousy and infidelity (thus the reference to Othello in the story’s title and to Pushkin – also infamous for being jealous of a young wife – within the story), but I doubt that is it. The theme that it left with me was one of pitiable individuals who are caught up in great forces that are far beyond their control, and what a wreck such forces can bring about to one’s psyche – or sanity. One passage that supports this take: “I confess that one evening, after a particularly abominable day, I sank down on a stone bench weeping and cursing a mock world where millions of lives were being juggled by the clammy hands of consuls and commissaires.”

I own this story as part of my “Best American Short Stories of the Century” (edited by John Updike), but I also found the text of the story on line at: it was first published in the Atlantic Monthly in November 1943 (pictured below)


This story’s title is a quotation from act five scene two of Shakespeare’s Othello, the same scene that includes the oft-quoted “one who loved not wisely but too well” lines. ****Spoiler Alert!**** “That in Aleppo Once…” was said just by Othello just before he kills himself. Near the end of Nabokov’s story, the narrator speculates that “all this may end in Aleppo” if he is not careful, making many wonder if he does, in fact, end up taking his life after having written the letter. I don’t know…

This week’s trivia tidbit. Nabokov is one of the most often mispronounced author names. Most stress the “Na” syllable, when – according to Nabokov himself – it’s actually the “Bo” that should be stressed. See for one online explanation.

Have you read Nabokov? I read the (in)famous novel, “Lolita,” for a book club years ago and also his chess-themed novel, “The Defense” (of which there is an odd film version tiled “Luzhin’s Defense” starring John Turturro). I read another famous short story of his (“Signs and Symbols”) for another discussion group once as well. And that story has made a DMI appearance this year too.

(Below: a tortured Othello, self-recriminating)


Deal Me In – Week 22 Wrap Up


It was a busy week for the DMI2014 group! Below are links to the nine stories (and counting!) our group has blogged about since the last update. Happy reading!

JamesReadsBooks posted about Tobias Wolff’s “The Other Miller” and Grace Paley’s “In this country, But in Another Language, My Aunt Refuses to Marry the Men Everyone Wants Her To.” (That second title’s a mouthful, eh?)

Dale read George MacDonald’s “The Gifts of the Child Christ”

Katherine Read Dave Wolverton’s “In the Teeth of Glory” and links to another card trick video you don’t want to miss!

I went back to Mother Russia for Alexander Kuprin’s “The Outrage – A True Story”

Candiss and Returning Reader are both in “catch-up mode” and are sharing several stories this week. Candiss’s will all be in one post at starting with O. Henry’s “The Ransom of Red Chief

Returning Reader’s stories are as follows:
The Vladimir Nabokov classic, “Signs and Symbols

Aminatta Forna’s Hayward’s Heath”

And Abdulrazak Gurnah’s “Cages”

There. That should keep you busy for awhile! :-). As always try to take a moment to visit/comment/like the blog posts of your fellow DMI participants as you see fit.

And what about you other readers who are not “officially” part of the Deal Me In Short Story reading challenge? Did you discover any new stories this week that you’d like to recommend? We’d love to hear about them… 🙂