Figures lifted from your own past and held up to the eye, molten with light.


Eleven short stories as refreshing as brook water from veteran Stern (Twice Told Tales, 1990, etc.).

The tales here each have a quicksilver shine that pulls at the heart with those sweeping undercurrents readers once sensed in Chekhov and early Hemingway. Their only shortcoming is a slightly excessive facility: the action tends to glide by, and few events deeply etch themselves in the reader’s mind. But the stories read wonderfully, with music flowing everywhere: doomy Shostakovich quartets, Mozart duo piano pieces, Schubert at his most heartbreaking. In “Apraxia,” a writer whose book on Shostakovich has just been trashed by the critics, puts away his CD of the terror-stricken Tenth Quartet and strives to sneak step-by-step to bed in his wife’s curtained, pitch-black bedroom: still consumed by the quartet, he is suspended, Stern writes, in “the language of the grave.” Hustled over to a fancy restaurant for “Lunch with Gottlieb,” a naïve young college grad, just arrived in Manhattan circa 1975 to join Moss Gottlieb’s advertising firm, has to sit through an embarrassing sales pitch to a client and then haul his drunken new boss back to the office. In “Chaos,” lovers who have lived together for two years break up for the sixth time. An American couple take “The #63 Bus from the Gare de Lyon” to visit famous graves in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery; when they find a monument with the husband’s name on it, they decide in dismay to buy plots back home. In “Comfort,” a pair of middle-aged recovering drunks who have never married exist in turmoil that almost tears their limbs off. The title story shows young performers pitting music against Wittgenstein’s nothingness.

Figures lifted from your own past and held up to the eye, molten with light.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-87074-457-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Southern Methodist Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?


Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet