A Useless Man: Selected Stories
“My Father’s Second Home”
“My Father’s Second Home” is from Sait Faik Abasiyanik’s collection A USELESS MAN: SELECTED STORIES (Archipelago Books, 2015). Sait Faik Abasıyanık was born in 1906 and died in Istanbul in 1954. He is the author of twelve books of short stories, two novels, and a book of poetry. Many stories are loosely autobiographically and deal with Abasiyanik’s frustration with social convention, the relentless pace of westernization, and the slow yet steady ethnic cleansing of his city. He is greatly revered in Turkey. Nearly every Turk knows by heart a line or a story by Abasiyanik.
The journal TOTALLY DUBLIN had this to say about the collection: Abasiyanik’s status as a Turkish national treasure is utterly unsurprising. Chekhov-like in his ability to create sweet, poignant moments from the mundane and melancholy, Abasiyanik is able to fashion even a mother’s death into a comforting embrace. While regrets and loss — of a loved one, of a friend, of childhood — are recurrent themes, Abasiyanik’s prose is never heavy-handed, as he expertly invokes the colors, smells and tastes of his native Turkey. Abasiyanik’s impressionistic descriptions of men and boys, be they ‘delicate as lace’ or ‘beautiful and savage’, are particularly evocative. Habitually eschewing plot for atmosphere, memories, and faces, the pieces in A Useless Man can often only loosely be called stories; their endings are as inconclusive as they are satisfying.
Writing in The National, Malcolm Forbes says: One tale that leaves a lasting impact is A Useless Man, about a recluse in Istanbul who hasn’t left his neighbourhood in seven years and who pounds the same streets fantasising about the same women, unwittingly eliciting disgust from the same people. Towards the end he drops in the casual confession that he also hasn’t washed for seven years. Abasiyanik’s Useless Man feels like Turgenev’s Superfluous Man or a benign version of Dostoevsky’s Underground Man, and the intensity of his delusions and pipe dreams marks this as one of the strongest stories.