Friday, October 10, 2008

Isaac Babel's stories of war contain incidents--events happen. In reading them, I am more struck by the reality the incidents happen inside.

In this reality, meaning evaporates quickly and thoroughly, like water in very dry air. Lives and deaths happen inside this echoing, draining nothing, which is far bigger than any person in the war and far bigger than any story of what the war is about.

--Isaac Babel's war stories are in his book "Red Calvary," which usually isn't published by itself, but as part of his collected works. Since each thing he wrote was pretty short and he died pretty young, his collected works make one thick, intense book, well worth reading.