Polecat Skins

"His features were already dispersed throughout the room in which he had lived, and were sprouting in it, creating at some points strange knots of likeness that were most expressive. The wallpaper began in certain places to imitate his habitual nervous tic. The flower designs arranged themselves into the doleful elements of his smile, symmetrical as the fossilized imprint of a trilobite.

For a time, we gave a wide berth to his fur coat lined with polecat skins. The fur coat breathed, the panic of small animals sewn together and biting into one another passed through it in helpless currents and lost itself in the folds of the fur. Putting one's ear against it, one could hear the melodious purring unison of the animals' sleep. In this well-tanned form, amid the faint smell of polecat murder and nighttime matings, my father might have lasted for many years. But he did not last."


Shulz, Bruno. Father's Last Escape. Written 1937, part of Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass. Published in The New Yorker in 1978, translated by Celina Wieniewska. Listen to it at the New Yorker Fiction Podcast here.


One of my favorites so far.


Probably not similar, but interesting for comparison: Polecat sounds so....icky to me! But Klimt painted a polecat-fur coat:

Der Iltispelz (unfinished), 1916. Klimt. Privately owned.