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The title of this collection of five stories by the author most recently of The Penny Wars and Pocock & Pitt is essentially a catchall phrase not so much for unrequited as failed love -- that which time dissolves with knowledge, irony, and both the usual and sometimes more extraordinary brutalities of life. An ugly fortune-teller makes a vicious self-fulfilling prophecy about a beautiful but morbid aunt; an adolescent boy is cured of voyeurism by an odd form of aversion therapy; an older, insensitive one kills a relationship by making sexual advances at the wrong time; a baseball coach risks jail to see the championship game of his team; a group of French Benedictine monks, silently enjoying the bawdiest of Army revues (hairy chorus girls, et al.), becomes the inadvertent cause of the ruined life of a court-martialed sergeant. At the end of each is the quick telescoping of time as the apparently autobiographical author returns years later accidentally or purposefully to the events of his past, which turn out in rather mild black humor fashion to have had parameters far different than his younger more logical mind had assumed. Still some of that Fine Madness and a hint of the bizarre rescues these from an unexpectedly traditional structure.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1973
ISBN: 1420889249
Publisher: Putnam