COMMON CLAY: 20 Odd Stories by Brian W. Aldiss

COMMON CLAY: 20 Odd Stories

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The latest collection from British grandmaster Aldiss (A Tupolev Too Far, 1994, etc.) includes six original stories among the reprints, 1987-95, the whole being knitted together with unsettling fictional-autobiographical musings and others comments. An inveterate traveler, Aldiss lets his experiences emerge in stories with a wide variety of settings: ""The Mistakes, Miseries, and Misfortunes of Mankind"" dissects the violence done to families in Bosnia; the small ironies of life bubble up in ""A Swedish Birthday Present""; ""A Dream of Antigone"" links a modern revolutionary to the ancient Sophocles play and wonders how Antigone and her lover Haemon might have survived. Elsewhere we find: a man who beheads himself; Hamlet the overweight prince of Denmark; two ""enigmas,"" Aldiss's patented, weird small trilogies; a story of the afterlife in which the characters remake reality; ""Horse Meat,"" a brutal and terrifying commentary on power and corruption; ""How the Gates Opened and Closed,"" a brilliant ""story"" in which, as the protagonist asseverates repeatedly, no events occur; and ""Making My Father Read Revered Writings,"" a stunning illustration of how texts vary their meaning according to the person reading them. Not to every taste, perhaps, but thoughtful and subtle, conveying the unnerving sense that there's always something else going on just beyond the reader's immediate apprehension.

Pub Date: March 7th, 1996
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's