‘The Log’ by Guy de Maupassant

The Log by Guy de Maupassant, 1882

The magic trick:

Triggering the plot with an odd, intriguing statement at the start

The story mechanics here are old-fashioned. People simply don’t write stories like this anymore. But maybe they should.

A man makes a provocative statement early in the story. When a log escapes the stack in a fireplace, he suggests that it was a log escaping a fireplace as the reason he never married. Huh? How very interesting.

So, off we go. The plot springs into action. The rest of the text is him explaining what on the surface seems an unlikely circumstance. Classic. And that’s quite a story on de Maupassant’s part. 

The selection:

When the disaster was remedied, there was a strong smell of burning, and, sitting down opposite to his friend, the man looked at her with a smile and said, as he pointed to the log:

“That is the reason why I never married.”

She looked at him in astonishment, with the inquisitive gaze of women who wish to know everything, that eye which women have who are no longer very young, – in which a complex, and often roguish, curiosity is reflected, and she asked:

“How so?”

“Oh, it is a long story,” he replied; “a rather sad and unpleasant story….”

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