Tag Archives: 100words

Paris through the Window in Three Variations…

A Drabble is a vignette of precisely 100 words in length and the term—described as a word game for 2 to 4 players wherein the first player to write a novel is the winner—was coined in Monty Python’s Big Red Book, first published in 1971.

Since this word game in print isn’t practical to play in the real world within a short period of time, it was determined that a Drabble would have to be a very short novel indeed, in order to play the game in real time. And, it was furthermore agreed that a hundred words would suffice; and that the first rule of writing a Drabble is adhering to the precise word-count of a hundred.

Hyphenated-words-are-argued-about—but not by me, so have at it—with fifteen additional words permitted for a title.

Now, in my daily practice of writing a single page of concise compositions of polished prose using exactly 336 words, I’m accustomed to working within a structure of limitation when I write an essay or a piece of fiction or satire.

However, my practice also includes building on a 336-word piece by writing additional pages, if necessary. Some of my pieces are complete as one-off single-page pieces, but some are not. And all of my pieces can be expanded if I wish—with the highest page limit set at six pages.

Writing a Drabble is a particular kind of challenge for me because it forces me to be even more concise and specific with my writing and requires a very precise collaboration with my internal editor.

The most satisfiying writing exercise I play with is crafting a Drabble inspired by a work of art.

And my favorite is the following piece of short fiction I wrote, inspired by Marc Chagall’s 1913 painting, Paris par la fenêtre, and published here in three variations revised three times over six years.

I’m offering these variations as examples of different ways to tell the same story with slightly and vastly different outcomes and moods.

1.

Paris Through The Window (2012)

by Richard La Rosa

The room is littered with hundreds of paintings yet one instantly catches my eye—Chagall’s, Paris Through The Window.

My brother knew it was my favorite (as I had given it to him fifty years ago). Yes, it’s the original, created with an extraordinary oil paint made by a Russian gypsy in 1909. The one in the Guggenheim is a fake.

Placing my hands on the painting, I concentrate as only my brother the art forger and I, the art thief, know how.

The room dissolves as I step into the Paris of 1913—and the past becomes my present.

2.

Paris Through The Window (2015)

by Richard La Rosa

The flat is cluttered with a hundred paintings, but one against the wall catches my attention: Marc Chagall’s, Paris Through The Window.

It’s the original, created with an extraordinary oil paint made in 1909 by a Russian gypsy. The painting in the Guggenheim is a fake—expertly copied by my brother, using the paints that our great-grandfather made a century ago.

Placing my hands on the painting, I concentrate as only my brother the art forger and I, the art thief, know how.

The room dissolves and I step into the Paris of 1913 just before the world ends.

3.

Paris Through The Window (2017)

by Richard La Rosa

I stride over to a painting by Marc Chagall hanging over a bricked-up window inside a Paris flat that is filled with a hundred masterpieces acquired over a hundred years.

A copy of the divine work of Cubism—created with oil paints made in 1909 by an artist whose genetic imprint is stamped in my own art-thief eyes—was made by my deceased art-forger brother and switched, like all the others, for the original.

Closing my eyes, I reach out to the painting, and I’m a hundred years in the past where my brother takes my hand.

***

Author’s Note:

This piece is precisely 672 words in length (2×336) and I expect I will likely expand it with an additional 336 words (probably on the subject of Chagall’s painting and some of the themes that inspired it—as well as the connection those themes have to my story). ~R.L.R.