Spring 1962 • Vol. XXIV No. 2 FictionApril 1, 1962 |

Message in a Bottle

There are days when the world pauses, gets stuck, senselessly, like one of those machines that ought to give cigarettes or make balls bump round but simply becomes an object that takes kicks, shakes, unyieldingly. You drop out of step with the daily work or habit that carries you along and stare about. Halt, halt! It's fatal. This is not Sunday, with cows beside winter willows and dried-up streams, and white egrets catching up with their own forward-jerking necks. I notice a face in the strip of mirror attached with crystal knobs to the pillar in the coffee shop. An uneven face, looks as if it's been up all night for years: my own. Once I had no face to speak of, only a smile, bright eyes and powdered cheeks, nicely arranged. I order two coffees, one for myself, one for the child—"Would you like a cup of coffee?": it is a piece of clumsy flattery, a status I confer upon her because she has just been to a doctor and suffered a painful treatment. She accepts it, her token smile know

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South African writer and political activist Nadine Gordimer received numerous awards and honors during her career, among them the Booker Prize, the Rome Prize, and, in 1991, the Nobel Prize in Literature. We revisit here a relatively early story, first published in KR and later appearing in a 1965 collection of her short fiction, Not For Publication, and Other Stories.

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Vital Statistics

By Nadine Gordimer

There are days when the world pauses, gets stuck, senselessly, like one of those machines that ought to give cigarettes or make balls bump round but simply becomes an object […]

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