THE DEVIL'S MODE
Nine short stories from the English-born author of the Enderby series, Clockwork Orange, Any Old Iron, and numerous other milestones. Scoring rather poorly in the Burgess Olympics--some 55 publications to date--this collection presents the author in an uncharacteristically terse mode. In the most ambitious entry, "Hun," Burgess portrays Attila as a young barbarian briefly introduced to the Roman society he ultimately ransacks. "The Most Beatified" similarly scrutinizes the distance between myth and history, but in this case a lighter touch is invoked by the subject matter: What did Helen of Troy really look like? A unifying strand is suggested in Burgess' fanciful use of historical characters throughout most of these pieces. In "A Meeting in Valladolid," young Will Shakespeare meets a crotchety Cervantes in Spain. Likewise, "1889 and the Devil's Mode" is structured around a meeting between Browning and Debussy. On a quite different note, and out of place here, is "The Endless Voyager," in which a frequent-flyer relates the tale of a fellow traveller who refuses to carry a passport. Only one piece has been previously published in English, and that in a work compiled by the New York Metropolitan Opera Company. On the whole: scraps from the master's table. Familiar flashes of the famed Enderbian verbal intensity, but unsustained throughout the course of the entire collection. For serious fans only.