the short story project

One Minute Stories

David Tarbay On:

One Minute Stories by István Örkény

István Örkény, one of twentieth century’s most unique Hungarian authors and playwrights, was renowned for the short stories he began writing in the sixties, a seasoned author and mature individual who had seen the world around him turned upside down more than once. “One Minute Stories” are indeed read in no more than a minute or two, but continue to resonate in the reader’s imagination the following day. With simple and precise descriptions, Örkény presents trivial details from an unexpected angle, building stark and often absurd contrasts that create a paradoxical tension of amusing grotesque; but to him the grotesque can not only expose bitter truths, but also provide a flicker of hope. “The grotesque undermines everything we thought of as complete and final,” he confesses, “without offering an alternative. In lieu of a period at the end of a sentence, it adds a question mark, instead of closing, it sets a new path, it opens up a beginning.”