I do my best to write fiction. I really do. I know I haven't written a great short story in awhile, but I'm always trying. However, this morning I saw how far I have to go.
Originally printed in the New Yorker 60 years ago, Vladamir Nabokov's "Symbols and Signs" is so good it will take your breath away.
The story is simple (only 2200 words), and easy to follow, yet there is so much going on underneath the surface. It is about a Russian immigrant couple going to visit their insane child in an institution. I shook as I listened to it. It's that good.
The New Yorker did a podcast, with Mary Gaitskill reading, and then discussing the story with a moderator. You can listen to the story here. (The entire podcast is about 30 minutes, but only the first 17 minutes are the story. The discussion is illuminating too, though.)
If you simply refuse to listen, there is also a text version here.
I know you're busy, people, but if you care about powerful literature in a simple story, you owe it to yourselves to make some time today for Nobokov.