Nikishka’s Secrets by Yury Kazakov, 1968
The magic trick:
Creating a dreamy feel through plain language
Nikishka, though just a young boy, moves with a striking sense of peace and serenity. He is sensitive to nature and love and life’s more essential elements in a way that no one else in his village can quite grasp. Kazakov describes this situation at several points throughout the story in very plain, description language. Nothing in the action of the story is particularly dramatic or wildly written. And yet the story takes on a hazy, dreamy, almost fairytale kind of feel. It is Nikishka’s intense sensitivity to the sounds and feelings around him, as described by Kazakov, that give off such a unique vibe. As such, it’s almost a template for a happy life – love and quiet appreciation – for both the villagers in the story and us readers of the story. And that’s quite a trick on Kazakov’s part.
Everybody in the village loved Nikishka. Somehow he wasn’t like the rest – he was quiet and gentle, whereas all the children in the village who helped the fishermen were lively and mischievous. He was about eight years old, with a blond forelock, a pale, freckled face, big ears, limp and thin, and eyes that didn’t match: the left one was yellowish, the right one turquoise. Sometimes he looked at you – and he was a silly baby; he fixed his eyes on you another time – and he looked like a wise old man.