EXTREME MAGIC by Hortense Calisher

EXTREME MAGIC

A Novella and Other Stories
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Eight short stories and the title novella are essentially moments of recognition. In Il Ploeur De Mo Koeur, a young woman who has learned French phonetically finds it on native ground. There are The Colonials, an older Jewish refugee professor who advises a younger British colleague to "stay echt" if he wishes to be a successful immigrant to the U.S., the bright, barbarous land. In A Christmas Carillon, a wandering husband returns home and recognizes that "this is middle age... the gathering sound of all the platitudes, sternly coming true", and in The Rabbi's Daughter a young mother who has given up a promising career as a pianist for marriage realizes that the erosion of time and duty is her enemy. Two diversions, Little Did I Know and Songs My Mother Taught Me are followed by two defeats: a move to less space provokes a marital argument overheard by a aughter (The Gulf Between) and a widowed professor takes on the burden of her eadbeat nephew (If You Don't Want to Live, I Can't Help You). Extreme Magic involves the return to personal commitment of a man first broken, then achieving selfless detachment by the loss in fire of his family. It is at once satisfying in its portrait and a little wishful in its denouement. Miss Calisher has an interesting yet confined talent, perceptive rather than penetrating-- her reach never exceeds her grasp. Varied, skilled work nonetheless.
Pub Date: April 29th, 1964
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1964




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