THREE EVENINGS: Stories by James Lasdun


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Lasdun's short-story surrealism made an impression in his 1986 debut, Delirium Eclipse, but the lavish stylization and overdetermination of this young British writer's method comes up shorter this time. Out of eight stories here, only one has some ballast to it, ""Age/Menos, or The Miracle"": a young man propelling himself into a continuous loop of misidentity--which is clever and surprising. The other stories are slighter; strange reversals occur or mysteries are revealed, but all are hurried along to conclusion. The shiny but decidedly louche quality of Lasdun's poetic prose doesn't help. In small descriptive doses it's okay, but too often it clots archly: ""Precisely that passive, unintended, but nevertheless culpable relation was what seemed exposed in me, and no doubt what this connection lacked in logic was more than made up for by my abundant willingness to take a symbolic or even superstitious interpretation of anything pertaining to my own easy status as a volunteer."" So, though Lasdun's ideal model might be Henry James's ghost stories, the actual execution here more suggests an overupholstered Roald Dahl.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: "Farrar, Straus & Giroux"