Corra?) -- but do we often think about our favorite short story?
Today while I was traveling, I thought about it (while staring dreamily at my newly purchased novel Mrs. Dalloway - with the gorgeous cover). I knew immediately what it was. And it wasn't something I wrote but it was something I based one of my short stories on.
It's a story called:
The Nine Mile Walk by Harry Kemelman.
It's an old story, written in the sixties, but my father used to read that story to us when we had visitors. (It's his favorite story too.)
Why is the book so memorable?
For a mystery lover like myself, it's the perfect 'armchair deduction' story; a whole skein of deductive reasoning exposing a crime based on a simple overheard phrase.
When Professor Nicky Welt extols the virtues of Logic, his friend (and the narrator) challenges him to explain the meaning of the arbitrarily overheard sentence: “A nine mile walk is no joke, especially in the rain.” From this sentence and very little else, Welt is able to not only deduce facts about who first uttered it, but is able to solve a murder. Although it’s out of print and somewhat scarce, The Nine Mile Walk: The Nicky Welt Stories is a wonderful collection, and copies can be found. (My dad owns one...the book is falling apart but he loves it.)
In recalling that early story, Kemelman wrote (in the introduction to the collection): “I was approached by several publishers who were interested in seeing a full-length manuscript about Nicky Welt. Naturally I was flattered, but at the same time I felt I had to refuse. I felt that the classic tale of detection was essentially a short story.”
What story touched you the way this one did for me?