The Red Headed Man

Once there was a redheaded man without eyes and without ears. He had no hair either, so that he was a redhead was just something they said. He could not speak, for he had no mouth. He had no nose either. He didn’t even have arms or legs. He had no stomach either, and he had no back, and he had no spine, and no intestines of any kind. He didn’t have anything at all. So it is hard to understand whom we are really talking about. So it is probably best not to talk about him any more.

A Russian avant-garde writer, Daniel Charms had a flair for combining the absurd with the miniature. He wrote tiny ‘incidences,’ parables commenting on daily life in Stalin’s Soviet Union. His writings reflect the constant fear of arrest, hunger, and hopelessness of his times, and are delivered with a deadpan humor impossible to quite describe.

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