• Story Club: “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket”

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN Story Club     Comments 4 comments

    I think it’s high time we all read a short story together again.

    I’ve been reading a ton of Stuart Dybek’s short fiction lately, and I’ve also been talking your ear off about it. I won’t do (much) more of it here, I swear!

    But Twitter friend Kelly Luce took a class with Dybek, and we had a back and forth about that experience, in which she mentioned that Dybek’s favorite story might be Nobel winner Yasunari Kawabata’s “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket.” Kelly says that Dybek “still cries every time he reads it.”

    I’d never read Kawabata, but this recommendation was good enough for me. So I read it, and enjoyed it, and I thought it might make for a fun discussion for us.

    It’s a quick read, less than 1,500 words. You can find it at this link or open it on your computer as a .pdf.

    According to Kelly, Dybek once said that writing is about “making memories matter in the present.” If you’re familiar with his work, that makes plenty of sense. And then it’s also no surprise that he’d be a fan of Kawabata.

    So, keep that in mind while you read the story: making memories matter in the present.

    I don’t want to throw out a bunch of discussion questions and make this look like homework. Let’s just read a cool story and share our thoughts.


    Your turn: In the comments, tell us what you thought of “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket.”

    Share any feelings and reactions at all. (Even if you think they might be off topic! Because they’re probably not.) Ask any questions you might have about it, and answer someone else’s questions if you have a response. If this story reminds you of another writer’s work, share that with us and tell us what we should read next.


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    Barbara Mealer

    The story is quite deep. You have the innocence of children who have attempted to make the most beautiful lanterns they could to hunt for insects in the darkness. You see dissatisfaction with the lanterns not being the best they can make with the way the children keep improving the beauty of the lanterns. If you have never seen the bobbing lights of children hunting bugs, you are either too young or live in the city. The lights are beautiful as they move about in the growing darkness, even if only flashlights instead of decorated lanterns. Then there is the… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    It put me in mind of O. Henry and his stories. The idea that the boy likes the girl but the relationship isn’t going to flourish (as most puppy love doesn’t) but it is remembered as this sweet and innocent time. I loved the word pictures and the emotions you can get from what he doesn’t say.

    M.C. Maugeri

    I had to read the story a couple of times to get a sense of what it means…and I’m not sure I’ve gotten it, yet. Thank you Barbara for pointing out why the boy kept asking who wanted a grasshopper…I thought he just wanted to show his discovery off to as many kids as possible…”How silly of me not to have understood his actions until now!” However this makes what happens next quite sad to me. The observer/narrator paints a beautiful picture “a play of light,” “a scene from a fairy tale” and then he steps back and admires it… Read more »

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