Maxim Osipov, Dr.
from April to June 2022
Born in 1963 in Moscow
Studied Cardiology at Russian National Research Medical University and University of California at San Francisco
Frostig, beschämt, befreit: Essays on ImmigrationI plan to write an essay or a number of essays about an immigration. The name of the first one is “Frostig, beschämt, befreit.” Also I would like to write about Yerevan 2022, comparing it with Constantinople a century ago.
Osipov, Maxim. Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Other Stories. New York: New York Review of Books, 2019.
-. Ljuksemburg i drugie russkie istorii (Luxemburg and other Russian stories). Read by the author. Moscow: AST-Corpus, 2020. E-book and audiobook.
-. Kilometer 101: Skizzen und Geschichten. Vienna: Hollitzer, 2021.
Tuesday Colloquium, 24.05.2022
What Makes a Good Short Story Good
I think that short stories, even long short stories (my personal preference), can be closer to poetry than to novels. It’s not the subject matter that I find central to short fiction, but the style and form, whose importance far exceeds content. Being deeply knowledgeable about your material — in my case, about medicine and, to a lesser extent, religion, music, theater, politics, even chess — is not essential, however much it may help. I prefer to write about subjects that I am familiar with.
I’m not the first to observe that music is the greatest teacher of composition in any art, including writing. There are many similarities between short stories and musical sonatas. Both last between 15 and 40 minutes. Both “make nothing happen,” as Auden said of poetry. When we listen to a sonata for the first time, the purpose is to decide whether we want to listen to it again or not. The same should occur when you read a short story. Like a sonata, a work of short fiction should strive to compress many elements and be built of significant changes in rhythm, tonality, etc. These are the aspects that make a superlative story stand out — not its subject matter. A successful story also resembles music and poetry insofar as we only begin to truly appreciate it not during but long after our initial encounter. Finally, stories — again, like quartets — demand more of an effort from their readers than novels. Perhaps that is why publishers prefer novels.
I will discuss the three key elements of prose — style, plot, and characters. We also will listen to my English translators, Alex Flemming and Boris Dralyuk, reading two of the shortest pieces I’ve written: “The Cry of the Domestic Fowl” and “Big Opportunities”, and then talk about the difference between fictional and nonfictional stories. Also, we may debate and dispute the influence of the present political situation on what we write and read.