CONVERSATION by Conrad Aiken


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In its broader outlines, this is a gemlike piece of impressionistic writing, with dialogue set against stream of consciousness. One might place it by saying that it is a cross between Appointment in Samarra and The Thin Man, with less actual plot than either, with equally vivid dialogue, with less preoccupation with the physical aspects of life -- and with less humor. Through the thin thread of story and the well-executed conversation, the characters and situation emerge. The compass of the story is a 24-hour period of high tension between two people who really love each other, a situation brought to a head by external forces. The child, an unbreakable link between them, is delightfully drawn, and supplies relief. At the end, after every incident is heightened into tragedy, the bubble breaks and humor saves the day. Beautifully done, compact, restrained. The sub-plot does not quite come off, it is like a play within a play, a bit off key.

Publisher: Buell, Sloan & Pearce