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    One great short story to read today:
    J.G. Ballard’s “The Garden of Time”

    Emily Temple

    May 6, 2024, 10:30am

    According to the powers that be (er, apparently according to Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network), May is Short Story Month. To celebrate, for the second year in a row, the Literary Hub staff will be recommending a single short story, free* to read online, every (work) day of the month. Why not read along with us? Today, we recommend:

    “The Garden of Time” by J.G. Ballard

    Today is the 2024 Met Gala, which makes it a perfect day to read or revisit Ballard’s 1962 story “The Garden of Time,” which serves as the inspiration for the legendary party’s dress code. But you don’t need to be interested in fashion (or the news cycle) to read it—this is an elegiac story about (naturally) the passage of time, and (inevitably) the fragility of human life, and (specifically) the fall of the aristocracy. So, if you’ll forgive me, I’d call it timeless.

    The story begins:

    Towards evening, when the great shadow of the Palladian villa filled the terrace, Count Axel left his library and walked down the wide marble steps among the time flowers. A tall, imperious figure in a black velvet jacket, a gold tie-pin glinting below his George V beard, cane held stiffly in a white-gloved hand, he surveyed the exquisite crystal flowers without emotion, listening to the sounds of his wife’s harpsichord, as she played a Mozart rondo in the music room, echo and vibrate through the translucent petals.

    Read it here.

    *If you hit a paywall, we recommend trying with a different/private/incognito browser (but listen, you didn’t hear it from us).

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