Sunday, 28 April 2013

Short Story Reads:The Verger by W Somerset Maugham


Just like the friends we make, certain writers have the knack of bonding with readers through their works. During my teens, I struck a friendship with the most unlikeliest of writers - a certain William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965). 

As it goes with two peaceful souls, our relationship has been harmonious.Neither has tried to communicate with the other yet, stuck as we are on either sides of the graveyard. Jokes apart, I read most of Maugham's works during my teen years, thanks to The British Library, Ahmedabad - from the forgotten short story collection The Casuarina Tree to his best novels - Cakes and Ale, Up at the Villa and The Moon and Sixpence. 

Rereading certain Maugham's works does tell us that they haven't stood the test of time and are not as relevant today. Yet, the writer's persisting legacy are his short stories.

My favourite Maugham short stories emanate universal truths, surprise, compassion and delight. An otherwise melancholic and serious writer is clearly enjoying himself in these tales. One such classic, cheeky story is The Verger. It is not the O Henry-like twist, but the absurd happy turn of circumstance that is celebrated here. A change of guard, discovery of illiteracy, unemployment and a business idea makes up this breezy tale. Read it here.    


(Article by Snehith Kumbla)

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