Two short stories: a man adopts an ascetic lifestyle in order to outlive his competitors; and a composer attests that silence is the logical conclusion to music.
In 'Bark', Jeanne-Etiene Delacour takes pleasure in the avoidance of any threat to his longevity. Formerly a gourmand and a gambler but now an ascetic, his fastidious new lifestyle is the result of an investment in a public works project - one which holds the promise of considerable reward for the last investor to survive. As he draws black lines through the thirty-nine names in his pocket book, the human capacity to rationalise any indulgence is explored.
In 'The Silence', a composer attests that silence is the logical conclusion to music. He considers the silence that has been in effect throughout the interminable wait for his Eight Symphony, and how it will segue into the silence that will follow the end of his life - a life he claims to have sacrificed on the altar of his art.
Part of the Storycuts series, these two stories were previously published in the collection The Lemon Table.