I'm looking for a short story of a person whose conversations all ran alphabetically.

I think it's a rather known short story (I read it initially in German, but don't know, in which language it was originally written).

The first part is of the man reminiscing about a visit at a bar, where he talked to a girl. There he explains his situation, that all his conversations start from A and run letter by letter to Z, at which point they finish.
He vexes that, if only he (not sure if it was exactly like that) would have held each letter a little longer, he'd have had a chance with the girl.

At some point in the story, he visits a specialist in the hopes of curing his curse. This specialist then tells him that breaking the curse is a difficult endeavor, and eventually he achieves breaking it, leaving the main character relieved, but only as neither of the two notices that the curse had been replaced by another one.

What's the name of the short story?

  • Is this an old story? When did you read it? May 21, 2019 at 12:58
  • @Gallifreyan I read it in school, and it most likely was an old story. I first thought it was something from Kafka, but at least from the titles I couldn't tell
    – Sudix
    May 21, 2019 at 13:03
  • "all his conversations start from A and run letter by letter to Z, at which point they finish" - what exactly does this mean? He always starts talking with a word that begins with A, and as soon as he uses a word like "quiz", the conversation ends? How exactly does one proceed from one letter to the next, in a conversation that consists of words that consist of many letters?
    – Rand al'Thor
    May 22, 2019 at 16:54
  • @Randal'Thor I think that it was sentence after sentence, always the first letter of the first word. I.e. if he started a sentence with "This", then all further sentences must start with a word with first letter T,U,...,Z
    – Sudix
    May 22, 2019 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


Perhaps the story has some earlier origin, but this is exactly the story in the book Withershins from Morrowind.

"All right," said Kazagha. "Why don't you want to talk?"

Zaki put down his mug of mead and just stared at his wife for a few seconds. Finally, grudgingly: "Because every time I have a conversation, darling, it flows in alphabetical order. Just like I told you. I think the only way to stop it is not to talk at all."

"Couldn't you just be imagining this?" said Kazagha patiently.

And in the end he has a new problem:

At the counter, when Zaki pulled out his satchel of gold pieces, Octoplasm merely shook his head: "Are treatment radical such of effects term long the what sure be can't we, naturally. Charge no."

Feeling the first real relief he had felt in days, Zaki walked backwards out of the shop and down the road to his shop.

  • Welcome to Literature Stack Exchange and thank you for your contribution! The story looks like a very good match for the question. Is there a way to find out when this story was written?
    – Tsundoku
    Jul 10, 2019 at 18:57
  • Thank you so much! I wouldn't have thought I'd ever find it again! It's quite different than I remember it, but it's undeniable what I had in mind when I asked this question
    – Sudix
    Jul 10, 2019 at 19:50

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