The career of novelist Frank Norris was tragically short--he died in 1902, at the age of 32--but crowded with work. In less than a decade, he produced seven novels (including McTeague and The Pit) and some sixty short stories. A varied sample of the tales, most written for commercial markets, is gathered here. Some pieces are clearly apprentice work, reflecting either popular genres of the moment (""Third Circle,"" for instance, offers a variation on the then-common theme of the creel, duplicitous Chinese thought to be active in America's Chinatowns) or the influence of other writers (""Shorty Stack, Pugilist"" has O.Henry-like twists to it; ""A Memorandum of Sudden Death"" reminds one of the grim work of Ambrose Bierce). By contrast, the group of sketches labeled ""Man Proposes,"" offering varied glimpses of the moment when a wedding proposal is made, demonstrates both the sardonic realism and the attention to social detail that characterize Norris's best efforts. Those with a pointed interest in the work of Norris, or in the state of magazine fiction at the turn of the century, will find the collection of interest. Others likely won't.
Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998
Page Count: 180
Publisher: "Ironweed (P.O. Box 754208, Forest Hills, NY 11375)"