This book has three of Gorky's short stories. We read it for our January selection in my book club. Although it is a very quick read, I found myself enjoying each of the stories.
"Chelkash." A thief (Chelkash) enlists a poor farm boy to abet him in a heist. Initially, you will detest the thief and feel empathy for the boy; you want the theft to be a success. But, at the end, avarice takes over and you may change your opinion.
"Makar Chudra." Here is a story written in the first person that merely retells a story told by a gypsy. It is one of two haughty, fiery lovers, both too proud to concede their love without interposing conditions. Do love and hate stem from the same basic emotion?
"Twenty-six Men and a Girl (aka Twenty-six and One)." The story is of a contrast of hierarchy within the working class. In it the lowly pretzel makers (the twenty-six) are pitted against the upper crust (no pun intended) bun bakers (merely four). The pretzel twisters are enthralled with a young girl who uses them. Enter the dashing, suave soldier as one of the bun bakers. He is in a class by himself. Jealousy rules and the twenty-six make a wager with the soldier which eventually turns them against the girl. Who wins, who loses?