Do This At The Pru

You’ll be glad, or maybe indifferent, but at a minimum, you will be among the relatively few Americans to have had the pleasure. The next time you are at the Prudential Center in Boston, find the Short Story Dispenser and push the button.

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It has an orange face and lurks at the end of the hallway where Barnes and Noble is located. Decide if you want to read a 1, 3, or 5 minute story. Select, push, and a tiny scroll, like a cash register receipt, will emerge in seconds. No charge. Grab your story and read immediately or shove it in your bag to peruse while you’re waiting in the Starbucks line. 

The concept originated in France, and apparently, machines are still rare in the United States. There have been sightings of Short Story Dispensers in West Palm Beach FL and University Park PA. 

I chose a 1 and a 3 minute story. They were pleasant enough. In the first, “Letter to a Neighbor” by  Alice Merveille, a neighbor-stranger disappears before the author has a chance to learn his story. The 3-minute choice, “Glimmer of Hope” by Celestine Orn, describes the loneliness of climbing Mount Sinai in worn out sneakers. 

Never one for short tales, I headed to an actual bookstore, the kind with shelves, and loaded up on the just-released 650-page novel, Lethal White by Robert Galbraith, Kate Atkinson’s newest, Transcription, an Ann Cleeves mystery, and a copy of Paris Match to try to make some headway on my French vocabulary. 

I’m thinking that a Short Story Machine on Hanover’s Main Street would be novel, but could never replace the Dartmouth Bookstore. 

What will? 


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