This story can be found in the January 18, 2016 issue of The New Yorker.
This review can also be read at The Mookse and the Gripes.
First Line: "There once lived a painter so destitute that he couldn’t afford a single crayon, let alone brushes and paints."
Last Line: "'It’s because you’re a silly one,' Vera told him. 'Always were and always will be.'"
How wonderful to read a story that is merely a fairy tale - a story intended to amuse, to entertain, to hold the recepient's interest from beginning to end! And though this piece is elementary, it is fun, and also current, touching universal and timeless themes and characterizations. Fairy tales remind us that some things- some thoughts and emotions - some of life's circumstances - never seem to change.
No Big Bad Wolf, no little gnome of a man, and no princess to be found here. But amid echoes of Dickens and Tolstoy we find a poor, abused painter; a young woman with a withered leg; a melodramatic swindler; and magic - paints, brushes, canvases... There are "strangers in a strange land" and there is "no room in the inn" for a woman giving birth. And guilt! Oh, the guilt that runs throughout this piece - a thread weaving together the fuzzy differences between wants and needs!
As in any fairy tale, there are positive events that suddenly lead to negative turns and a moment when all seems lost. Despair looms and threatens the thinnest fabric of humanity and hope. But then there is a moment when what is real overcomes what is magic, in the end, and the hero comes through triumphant, and legally and lawfully wed.
Mormon Moment: "For behold, are we not all beggars?" Mosiah 4:19
Photo Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/19/Ludmilla_Petrushevskaya_seven_2009_Shankbone_NYC.jpg/200px-Ludmilla_Petrushevskaya_seven_2009_Shankbone_NYC.jpg