I was never a big fan of Henry. I mean, I loved the first three pages of ‘Portrait of a Lady’, but never could get much farther than that.
This might be why I started reading ‘The Beast in the Jungle’: it’s short.
However, short doesn’t mean concise and I found myself drifting off in so many pages, where I could barely understand where the sentence started, let alone where it finished.
It’s been quite a task, but finally I got to the end and it was so worth it.
It’s basically a novel about expectation and that’s where Henry shows his greatness: you don’t just read about expectation, you feel it.
Most of the books, they promise you something in the beginning, then they build up the story with action and events. Henry builds up the story with expectation, nothing else.
It’s like walking down a path in the woods (or in the jungle). You know something is watching you from the branches, but you can’t see it. You keep on walking, waiting for that something to show itself, or to attack you. And while you wait, what happens? Nothing. Yet, that time is not empty, but filled with expectation.
This is very easy to explain and in a film you might even spend a couple of minutes torturing the audience with this expectation. To write an entire short story only out of it? If you thought it madness you’d be very much right.
Until you read ‘The Beast in the Jungle’. A brilliant short story about waiting. Because you know that something big will happen in the end (or will it?).
You can also find a free ebook (utterly safe) on the Project Gutenberg website.