‘Breaking The News’ by Vladimir Nabokov

Breaking The News by Vladimir Nabokov, 1935

The magic trick:

Establishing a heartbreaking premise immediately, and making the reader feel the burden

The premise, in all its broken heartedness, is established in the opening paragraph.

Friends – and by proxy, us the readers – know that a woman’s son has died in Paris. The woman does not yet know.

The friends feel this tragic burden, and, again by proxy, so does the reader.

It’s a tough story to read.

And that’s quite a trick on Nabokov’s part.

The selection:

Eugenia Isakovna Mints was an elderly émigré widow, who always wore black. Her only son had died on the previous day. She had not yet been told.

As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s