Word software had an “autosummary” function that allowed you to condense a text. This function was applied a number of times to The Knife Sharpener’s Bell, reducing 325 pages to 4. What results is oddly representative of the novel’s themes, and is included for readers’ amusement.



I want my mother. My poppa.


Mother Nature and Poppa.

Poppa makes even my mother go. Mother-of-pearl. Takes my hand. “Annette.”

I wanted Poppa, not my mother.

“My mother taught me.”

“Look,” my mother says.

Tell my mother.

Annette!” “Poppa.” Poppa says.

My mother. “Thanks, Auntie Raisa.”

Annette. Raisa’s smart.

“Annette? “It’s fine, Vladimir. Vladimir asks.

Raisa asks.

Vladimir asks.

Where’s Raisa? Raisa doesn’t turn. My mother turns around. “Joseph?” “Annette? Poppa’s here. Poppa.

My mother is somewhere. Poppa.


“Poppa –”

Poppa. Raisa flinches. “Pavel?”

“Poppa,” Vladimir says, frowning. “Poppa…”

My Dear Pavel and Raisa,

It’s the old family: Poppa, my mother, Joseph, Ben. “Where’s Poppa?” It’s Raisa. “Annette!” “Annette.”

Poppa. Pavel and Raisa kept Vladimir close by them. Pavel says. Pavel pats her hand. Raisa stops.

Pavel asks.

“Annette.” Vladimir asks.


“It’s all right, Vladimir.” Vladimir squeezes my hand. Pavel asks. Poppa. “No, Pavel. “Annette…”

Pavel asks.

Raisa asks. “Pavel. “Raisa – ”

“Why, Pavel?” “Pavel…Uncle Pavel…”

“Your mother, your father.”

Raisa asks.

“Pavel.” My mother’s hands. “Annette?” Ben!” “Ben?” “Where’s Poppa?”

“It’s all right, Vladimir. ““Promise, Vladimir. “Annette?” “Annette?” It wasn’t just Poppa, my mother. Annette

Ben. Poppa.



“Annette?” “Annette…” I pour: Joseph, Pavel, Raisa, Vladimir, myself. Vladimir wriggles on Pavel’s lap. Raisa’s hand goes to her mouth. Pavel asks. Pavel asks.

Pavel asks.

“Poppa.” Poppa and my mother. “Annette?” “Annette?”

My mother. “Annette?” “Annette!”

Have even my mother. My mother left him.”

“Annette.” “Annette?”

Pavel, Raisa, Vladimir. My mother? Poppa’s hands. “Pavel?” “Pavel…”

“Pavel, please. “Raisa?”

“Annette? “Annette, Annette. “School’s fine, Raisa. About Poppa. “Vladimir,” I call.

Vladimir shrugs. Vladimir grimaces. Vladimir grins. Vladimir asks. Vladimir asks.

Vladimir asks.

“Look, Vladimir. ““Right Vladimir?” Vladimir’s, Manya’s. Vladimir shrugs.


Vladimir nods. Right?” Right?”

Raisa asks.

Raisa asks.

Vladimir, where’s Vladimir? “Vladimir Efron?” Vladimir nods.

I can see Raisa’s hands shaking.

It’s Poppa’s.”

Pavel draws Vladimir to him, then Raisa. “Annette?”

“Raisa –” I touch her hand. “Raisa – ”

It’s Pavel. Efron, Raisa; Gershon, Annette.

Raisa asks.

“It’s all right, Raisa.”

Ben. “From Raisa. ““Vladimir, don’t…”

Annette. Momma, Poppa…”

Vladimir?” “Vladimir, I’m sorry.”


Vladimir. Vladimir. Vladimir alive.



Published On: April 2, 2009Categories: News, Rue des Rosiers

share this info