WINTER'S TALES: New Series VI by Baird-Smith Robin--Ed.


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This sixth annual anthology from England, like its predecessors, is mostly a refreshing departure from the familiar litany of names in similar American efforts. The 15 stories here emphasize English and Commonwealth writers, both established and emerging, but also include a Spaniard, an Argentinian, and Joyce Carol Oates. Of the better-known writers, Francis King (""A Lost Opportunity"") offers a delicate portrait of an Englishman in Japan teaching conversation classes; David Plante (""Matante Cora"") writes convincingly of a boy's evolving relationship with his aunt, who on her deathbed is finally pronounced a nun; Oates's story (""The Hair"") is a touching (and typically dark-textured) study of the friendship between two couples; Laura Kalpakian's (""Right-Hand Man"") is a present-tense slice-of-life delivered in a convincing colloquial voice. Meanwhile, efforts from emerging writers include Patrick Roscoe (recent winner of Canada's CBC Literary Award) in ""My Lover's Touch,"" which dramatizes a young man's descent into a world of homosexual prostitution, drug addiction, and an agonizing search for sadomasochistic encounters (which he mistakes for love); while Whitbread Prize-winner Paul Sayer's ""The Interrogator's Divorce"" is a deftly managed account of an interrogator, in the fictional country of Judpara, that juxtaposes a conventional instance of divorce with efforts to thwart subversives in a liberal police-state; and Clare Colvin's supernatural ""Something to Reflect Upon,"" about a woman who leaves her husband for the solace of a temporarily vacant apartment, ends with a chilling visitation that accents the narrator's emotional estrangement. In all, a worthy addition to the series, and an interesting contrast to the American scene.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's