"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe USA, 1846
How it starts: ""·Fortunato and I both were members of very old and important Italian families. We used to play together when we were children"
How it ends: "In pace requiescat!"
Apuleius' digressionary effusiveness notwithstanding, there's something to be said in favor of that other type of writer who can get his message across with as little wasted space as possible. Poe's seven-page "The Cask of Amontillado," for example, has always struck me as one of the most economical short stories ever, but I'd forgotten just how much of a pleasure it was to read until I picked it up again recently. The outwardly affable but inwardly calculating narrator, the Buñuelesque humor about the difference between a trowel-wielding mason and the brotherhood of freemasons, and the exquisitely controlled balance between madness and menace all add up to a perfect tapas dish for those who'd agree that revenge is a dish best served cold. Rating: 5/5 stars. Source: The Portable Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. Gerald Kinney). New York: Penguin, 2006, 208-214.