In the 1950s, Hondouran writer Augusto Monterroso (1921–2003) produced an itsy-bitsy story called The Dinosaur. He could hardly have been the first to attempt radical brevity for the sake of memorable storytelling, but his seven words seem to have captured the world’s imagination. In the era of twitterature, his story might be fun to recall and—perhaps, possibly, at a stretch, in the fullness of time—to memorise.
When he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.
The Dinosaur is relatively well-known. However, there are two other (marginally longer) stories in Monterroso’s Complete Works and Other Stories, that aren’t cited as much, but that struck me as having deeper content per word printed.
God has not yet created the world; he is only imagining it, as if he were half asleep. That is why the world is perfect, but confused.
I Know You, Mask
Humor and timidity generally go together. You are no exception. Humor is one mask and timidity is another. Do not allow anyone to remove both at the same time.
The World is worth meditating on in a general, broad sense—it may yield quite a few story germs (and philosophical insights), while I Know You, Mask implicitly asks a personal, searching question—would you dare take off both masks and then look in the mirror?
Well, would you?
P.S. If you’re familiar with the 1980s British sitcom Yes Minister, you may appreciate the irony of the short clip hiding behind the first link above. The words set off in em dashes were meant to echo Sir Humphrey Appleby’s obfuscating, hedging, sarcastic statements (I could have tried harder to emulate him, but I was trying to be mindful of reader fatigue). Let me say that again: the clip is from a fictional show aired in the 1980s.