While commuting to the busy Canary Wharf financial area in London, one can notice a rather unusual scene – businessmen reading into receipt-like scrolls. They are not alarmingly long grocery bills – but action-packed short stories.
Canary Wharf, London has introduced genius vending machines that, by a touch of a button, print out bite-sized short stories, following in the footsteps of French publishing company Short Édition.
They are free of charge and printed on eco-friendly papyrus in merely a couple of seconds. Small and taking up virtually no space, these brilliant inventions are ideal for short commutes and easy to read even when squashed by someone’s elbow on a busy Monday morning.
The black and yellow “Short Story Stations” enable you to select a one-, three- and five-minute read length – and then generate a randomly selected short story, in a range of different genres: crime, feel-good fiction, sci-fi, romance, but also condensed classics by authors such as Virginia Woolf or Charles Dickens. The little ones are not missing out on the fun – the vending machines also offer children’s stories.
I’ve always loved the challenge of the short story — creating a whole world in just a few pages. Here’s a whodunnit, complete with suspects and clues, that can be started and finished in just a minute. I hope it will entertain tube travelers who will know, at least, that they won’t have the frustration of having to get off before the end!
The initiative is a great way of promoting reading among Londoners. In fact, research says that 53 million books are left unfinished in the UK every year, with lack of time often given as the reason.
By providing the commuters with a gripping short story that takes only a couple of minutes to read, the organizers are hoping to encourage Brits to read more.
Short Story Stations have already proved to be a huge success among commuters in France, Hong Kong and the US. In fact, “The Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola liked it so much he invested in the company in 2016, installing a dispenser in his San Francisco restaurant, Cafe Zoetrope.
She is fascinated by how books influence culture and society. From time to time, she reads on a Kindle, but she is still not fully convinced to ebooks. When possible, she picks print editions and their addictive magic.
A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
by Sonia Purnell
France was falling. Burned-out cars, once strapped high with treasured possessions, were nosed crazily into ditches. Their beloved cargoes of dolls, clocks, and mirrors lay smashed around them and along mile upon mile of unfriendly road. Their owners, young and old, sprawled across the hot dust, were groaning or already silent. Yet the hordes just kept streaming past them, a never-ending line of hunger and exhaustion too fearful to stop for days on end.
Ten million women, children, and old men were on the move, all fleeing Hitler’s tanks pouring across the border from the east and the north. Entire cities had uprooted themselves in a futile bid to escape the Nazi blitzkrieg that threatened to engulf them. The fevered talk was of German soldiers stripped to the waist in jubilation at the ease of their conquest. The air was thick with smoke and the stench of the dead. The babies had no milk, and the aged fell where they stood. The horses drawing overladen old farm carts sagged and snarled in their sweat-drenched agony. The French heat wave of May 1940 was witness to this, the largest refugee exodus of all time.
Day after day a solitary moving vehicle weaved its way through the crowd with a striking young woman at the wheel. Private Virginia Hall often ran low on fuel and medicines but still pressed on in her French army ambulance toward the advancing enemy. She persevered even when the German Stukas came screaming down to drop 110-pound bombs onto the convoys all around her, torching the cars and cratering the roads. Even when fighter planes swept over the treetops to machine-gun the ditches where women and children were trying to take cover from the carnage. Even though French soldiers were deserting their units, abandoning their weapons, and running away, some in their tanks. Even when her left hip was shot with pain from continually pressing down on the clutch with her prosthetic foot.
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