Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?
I read someplace the parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke chapter 15: 11-32 of the Bible was the greatest short story ever written. Who am I to argue?
A father has two sons. They become aware that upon the father’s death they stand to inherit his belongings. The younger son ask for his inheritance now. The younger son takes the inheritance and squanders it. He is ashamed and too proud to return to his father. He finds employment at the worst job possible to support himself; in other words he hits rock bottom. He decides to swallow his pride and return to his father’s household. While he is a long way off, yet father catches sight of him and runs out to greet his son. The occasion brings them tearful joy. The father arranges a large banquet to celebrate the return of the son. The older son becomes jealous. He feels his brother’s life turned out the way it should have. He got what was coming to him. The father points out that the son was lost and now was found. He tells the older son that in the time your brother had left you had all the good things that were missed by the younger. The older son does not appreciate a father’s love or mercy.
There are emotional parts of the story; mercy, jealousy, joy, and love. Likewise there is intrigue, suspense, pathos; and told with brevity and clarity.
The Bible gives a little more detail. When reading the account myself, I fill in some of the possible conversations, odors, sights, sounds, and background. Short stories offer the reader that option without losing the impact of the writer’s intent.
When reading the Bible account of David and Goliath at First Samuel chapter 17 I imagine David trying to put on the armor of the much taller King Saul. It’s too big. He staggers around clumsily. Those watching him chuckle. When the actual battle between David and Goliath takes place I hear the pounding of David’s small but determined feet against the solid earth as he runs toward Goliath. Goliath laughs and stomps his feet to mock David. As David runs toward Goliath I hear the whirl of his sling around and around and around. I hear the smooth stone whiz to its target. All are silent. There is a crack like the sound of a bat hitting a baseball. Everyone hears it. They are puzzled. It sounds decisive. It is followed by a thud as Goliath collapses to the ground.
Both stories have meaning and impact if chosen to use them as such. And those are just two stories that I can read over and over and feel the same intellectual. emotional, and spiritual impact each time they are read.
There are hundreds of such stories in the Bible. And they never get old.