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“Quail Seed” (thoughts)

April 13, 2009

100 Shots of Short(As usual, I review stories on Monday as part of John Mutford’s Short Story Monday.)I’m not going to lie: I first decided to read “Quail Seed” by Saki because it begins with ‘Q’, which I needed in order to eventually have a reviewed short story title for every letter of the alphabet. But I was extra excited to see it was written by Saki, because one of my favourite high school teachers used to tell me how amazing a writer he was, but I’d never gotten around to trying him out.

Well, let me tell you, he is a masterful short story teller and you should go read the story right now (on the internet! for free! via my helpful link! lol). In “Quail Seed,” the owner of a small grocery shop in a small town, Mr. Scarrick, complains to his new tenants (who happen to be artists) that it’s not enough to sell food anymore. Now, the customers want an ‘experience’: music, sports updates, and all of the luxuries that an independent store like his can’t provide. He’s quite worried about business. Fortunately, the artist has a wonderful idea: to increase business by playing off that fundamental human characteristic of curiousity.

To say more would be to ruin your experience, but the thing I loved most about this story was its gentleness. Sure, Saki’s looking at people’s essential core, and he’s definitely poking some fun, but it’s not in a mean way. And while it’s quite a short story, so we don’t get to know any characters in a ton of depth, Saki’s a brilliant sketch artist when it comes to characters, at least in English villages. It’s just an adorable, lighthearted little romp, and I think you’ll enjoy it as well! As for me, I’ll be looking out for more Saki in the future…even if the title doesn’t begin with an obscure letter of the alphabet! ;)

10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2009 8:10 pm

    The premise sounds as true today as it must have been then, until you consider that Walmart has pretty much taken over the world. Not much “experience” there.

  2. April 14, 2009 5:12 am

    You and John have convinced me to give read Saki!

  3. April 14, 2009 5:12 am

    …to READ Saki that should say ;-)

  4. April 14, 2009 5:27 am

    Well, as I’ve loved every short story you’ve pointed me to, I already went and bookmarked this one for later. (Later meaning after I get everything like cleaning, school stuff, grocery list, etc. done…because I want absolutely nothing hanging over my head for read-a-thon!)

  5. tuulenhaiven permalink
    April 14, 2009 7:15 am

    Sounds like a good one. I have just recently started exploring the short story again, and I’ll have to put this one on my list. Thanks for the review and the link!

  6. April 14, 2009 9:24 am

    You’ve convinced me; I’ll try to read this a little later today. For my part, I encourage you to read “Sredni Vashtar,” if you haven’t yet done so. It’s one of my favourite short stories, and it’s another from Saki.

  7. April 14, 2009 1:41 pm

    Hmm… I’ve never heard of Saki (where have I been?). I’m off to read that story, though! He sounds like a great short story writer.

  8. April 14, 2009 10:54 pm

    John, that’s true…which makes me sad. :/

    JoAnn, I hope you enjoy him! :)

    Debi, it’s awesome you’re clearing the decks for the read-a-thon. :D I hope you enjoy this story as well!

    Tuulenhaiven, I’ve changed up how I read short stories this year (reading more individual ones/anthologies instead of one-author collections), and I love that I can read so many on the internet for free. :D

    Memory, I definitely will: thanks for the rec!

    J.S., he definitely impresses me!

  9. adevotedreader permalink
    April 14, 2009 11:38 pm

    I’ve loved the Saki I’ve read, as you say he pokes fun but in a rather affectionate, warm-heated way. One of my favourite of his stories is Dogged, for these lines if nothing else:

    “It is a well-tried human axiom that, in human affairs, as in steeplechasing, the ugliest croppers occur at the ‘safest’ and most carefully pruned places, and of all conceivable occasions for a young man to go irretrievably wrong, a church bazaar would seem to offer the least appropriate opportunity. Yet it was at such a function, opened by a bishop’s lady, and patronized by the most hopelessly correct people in the neighborhood, that Artemus Gibbon went unsuspectingly to his undoing.”


  1. The Complete Saki « what we have here is a failure to communicate

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