Little Whale, Varnisher Of Reality by Vasily Aksenov, 1965
The magic trick:
Showing the drastic contrast between adult stress and blissful childhood
There is nothing mysterious about the level on which this story operates. It’s right there in the title.
Our narrator is struggling with his adult life. Job is bad. Marriage is struggling. He can’t find the courage the handle the issues he needs to fix. It’s not good.
But his son? Little Whale? His world is just about perfect. Free of those adult stresses, he is free to enjoy the life of a 3-year-old, appropriately full of wonder and thrill.
The back-and-forth in the story between the narrator’s two worlds ably demonstrates that contrast.
And that’s quite a trick on Aksenov’s part.
“The limpedooza!” he shouted rapturously.
“Now what’s a limpedooza?”
He stopped in confusion, laid the cap on the divan, went off to the far corner, and whispered from across the room. “A limpedooza is a kind of an animal.”
“Right you are,” I said. “How could I have forgotten? The limpedooza! A kind of slithery, clever little animal, right?”
“No! He’s big and fluffy!” said Whale with conviction.
My wife came into the room and said to Whale, “Let’s go tend to our business.” They went out together, but my wife came back and asked, “Did you call him?”
“Don’t pretend. You had all day and couldn’t make a phone call?”
“All right, I’ll do it now.”
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