What We Can Learn from Short Stories and Jokes
by Shih Wei
Pen Culture Solutions

"What you are seeking could very well be near you."

The author has collected two hundred jokes, fables, and stories, presented as brief philosophical and psychological learning experiences. Arrayed in fourteen categories, each is followed by a lesson from the author. The opening foray concerns an old man who always calls his wife by a multitude of affectionate terms, When questioned about this admirable habit by a young friend, he confesses, “…I forgot my wife’s name more than ten years ago.” “Things may not be as they appear to be” is the lesson offered here. This sets the stage for what follows, piquing the reader’s interest in subtle and often amusing ways.

In “Perceptions/Viewpoints,” a man in the desert is starving. Coming across a large sack, he is excited until he finds only pearls. It is an ironic reminder that things “have value regardless of the situation.” In “Helping One Another,” heaven and hell offer identical meals, with both being served on long spoons. In heaven, occupants feed one another. However, in hell, they can’t feed themselves. Sometimes, the author notes, helping others is the only way to succeed.

Singaporean by birth and a businessman by profession, the author shows both his international acumen and his practical nature, able to summarize the tales and quips in the form of basic wisdom. Some of his jibes and yarns are taken from Aesop, some from the Buddha, and many from familiar American folkloric traditions. Characters include children, animals, fairies, angels, and kings. The lessons advise against greed and haste and extol the virtues of generosity and thoughtful planning. Some of the offerings are based around well-known premises, while others, drawn from a myriad of sources, will be surprising as well as entertaining to many readers. Young adults will likely appreciate them for the first time. Meanwhile, more knowledgable readers will gain new perspectives that will enhance these time-honored tales.

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