Monday, August 06, 2012

Reader's Diary #849- Katarína Hybenová: When My Grandpa Worked in Kazakhstan

In my search for short stories from around the globe, I happened to come across this short story which enables me to check off two more countries I've not yet read: Kazakhstan and Slovakia. Sweet.

By Katarína Hybenová, who was born and raised in Slovakia but who now calls Brooklyn, New York home, comes "When My Grandfather Worked in Kazakhstan," a story built around 10 black and white photos, which I suppose were taken in the real Kazakhstan, but as this is fiction, may not actually have been.

The story begins with a description of Popradská coffee-- something clearly foreign to me. As a traveler, I have to say, she knew how to grab me.Yet oddly when she begins to describe how each family member takes his/her coffee, I found myself drawing comparisons to my own family. Just a couple of days ago I found myself talking about how my grandfather used to mix rum for people. (It was always too strong, but it was varying degrees of too strong.) And being able to connect the humanity in two very different cultures as outport Newfoundland and Slovakia? Well, Hybenová got me once again.

At this point I barely cared about the plot. Which turned out to be for the best. The story itself is almost the 11th snapshot: a picture of a family in the midst of a mundane day. The one thing that sets the day apart from all the others is that the narrator has finally broken with tradition. Instead of ignoring poor old grandpa who wants to reminisce about his time in Kazakhstan, she asks, "how was it when you worked in Kazakhstan?" That's when the pictures come out.

It's a simple device, barely a plot, but despite that, still ended way too abruptly. So abruptly in fact that I searched for a "next page" button to click on. It's unfortunate because I was really digging the story up to that point. It really needs just a sentence or two more for closure.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Perogyo said...

Too bad about the ending, the question about the pictures sounded fascinating.

I am also in Europe for Short Story Monday, with a story about a detective in Greece.

Teddy Rose said...

Too bad it didn;t have closure. Some stories don't as a device to leave it up to the reader's imagination but that doesn't sould like it for this story.

I finally reviewed another short, the summer has been crazy busy for me. Here's the link: