2000, John LeBow Publishing, 19 pages
I bought this book back in 2003 or 2004--the single most expensive literary item that I've bought.
"Two Dogs" is a single short story in a limited edition, hand stitched, hand-pressed and hardcover bound book. It has an introduction by John Dufresne and charcoal artwork from Steve's wife Ewa. It is one of the few copies of the 200 that were produced that is signed by all three.
The nice thing is that the story is worthy of the attention given to the presentation. It begins:
Prior to the end of World War II, the area had been part of Germany. In the '20s and '30s, the village was a well-known resort. Then the war started, and after the Nazies attacked Russia, Hitler established his eastern command post at Wolf's Lair just a few kilometers away--and Krutyn was turned into a recuperation center. My brother-in-law says that by 1943, German pilots were going crazy in droves; the Luftwaffe sent them here for a few weeks to calm them down.
With this seemingly simple opening Yarbrough gives us the location of the story, and the fact that the protagonist is with his brother-in-law, who is familiar with the area, and that they are in Poland (though you have to dig just a bit to get that). It's also obviously post WWII--we just don't know exactly how far beyond. He follows with:
We're sitting on a pier that juts out into the Krutynia River. Our kayaks, all ten of them, are stacked on the bank a few feet away. We're on a guided tour that ends tomorrow. I'm the only non-Pole in our group.
And there we get a bit more--the protagonist is a foreigner to the land the trip is in.
From there Yarbrough spills a few more facts about the brothers-in-law, and even more about the sisters they are married to. All of this leads up to Tomek, the brother-in-law, beginning a story about another Pole that both men know. The telling of this story leads to another story, which leads to another story--each new story seemingly taking the reader farther and farther away from the story of the two brothers-in-law sitting on the pier. But they don't, not if the reader is paying attention. Yarbrough has used this story within a story within a story (and maybe even within another story) layout help him tell the true main story--that of the relationship between the brothers-in-law.
In fact, he ends the story with Tomek just starting to really tell that particular story, but the reader knows exactly where he's heading with his tale (or at least believe that they do). It's really well crafted, as well as well written and the stories within the story are also entertaining. It's a chunk of money I'm still happy to this day that I spent, even if I probably had "better" or "more important" things to spend it on back at the time.