Issue #143: No Flies, No Folly

For our holiday issue this year, we have a special treat: “No Flies, No Folly” by Josh Weil. Josh is probably best known for his book The New Valley, which links together three exquistiely told novellas and inspired the National Book Foundation to choose him for their “5 under 35” list in 2009. In “No Flies, No Folly,” Josh Weil turns to the short story, and what a story he tells. Set in Pennsylania Dutch country, the narrative opens with Yankel, a Russian-Jewish immigrant peddler, who carries his wares and his troubled past across his shoulders. He visits the Amish farm of the Hartzler family, and when Mrs. Hartzler secretly asks him to bring an electric light on his next visit, their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Around the One Story office, where we pride ourselves on creating quick mash-ups to describe the different issues of our magazine, we’ve been calling this story “Fiddler on the Roof meets Witness.” But that hardly does it justice, because it is the language of the piece, the beauty of Josh Weil’s prose that distills all the elements of religious tradition, history, immigration, family, loss, progress and industrialization into a love story that is truly illuminating. I hope everyone enjoys “No Flies, No Folly” as much as I did–it’s the perfect story to read on a cold winter’s night over the holidays. Be sure to also read the author’s Q&A with us to find out more about Josh Weil and the inspiration behind “No Flies, No Folly.”

6 thoughts on “Issue #143: No Flies, No Folly

  1. I’m going to really have to work at this one to finish it…maybe third time lucky?

    Some really backass…awkward sentence constructions here and many, many words that could have easily been um “English?” I’m not really into why this writer decides to punish the reader of his lack of knowledge of the Russian Hebrew idiom. (I would have loved it if there was an actual Hebrew word for “piss” BTW…the English, overused very seriously here for some reason) Yes, I’m sure some on the Upper West Side think its so cute, oy vey, charming even, but seriously…(Imagine now my index finger going knuckle deep into my throat over a toilet bowl.)

    I will finish this lyricalless and seemingly endless story…eventually. But what a nadir after the last three. My God. And here I had such hopes for somebody XY to surface here and surprise me…well, I guess I *was* actually surprised. Editor’s choice I guess. Wow, what a resume.

  2. As a history buff with special interests in early American and imperial Russian history, I enjoyed “No Flies, No Folly” very much. I think the interaction of the two cultures and the use of the introduction of light was a great way to tell the story of people living in the dawn of the 20th century.

    Personally, I would have enjoyed the story more with just a bit less sensulaity and vulgar language. This did not seem to fit the characters you would expect to find in the Amish countryside. Although, I can understand that it helped the reader see the struggle the characters faced in the story.

    I will save this issue because I enjoy a story of the human spirit.

  3. Well, I’m behind on my One Storys and I just read this today and — wow, I think this is one of my top-ten EVER pieces of short fiction. And I’ve read a lot of ’em. Definitely going for a reread in a couple of days, because this one hit me where I lived (no, not in the Bronx…). Bravo, Mr. Weil.

  4. Oh, this was wonderful! I was spellbound. The weird eroticism, the light, religion, the language, the combustion of two cultures – which as I understand from the Q&A is taken from his great-grandfather’s actual history – it was just wonderful. Thank you, One Story!

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