Weil’s stories are engrossing, persuasively detailed, and written with a deep affection for the way language can, in...


A rich, often dazzling collection of short stories linked by themes while ranging widely in style from Babel-like fables to gritty noir and sci-fi.

Weil (The Great Glass Sea, 2014, etc.) says he wrote these eight stories over the course of a decade, yet they show a sustained preoccupation with light: as image, object of desire, and source of wonder, among other things. In the opening tale, “No Flies, No Folly,” a Jewish peddler in 1901 Pennsylvania Dutch country woos a farming woman with an Edison bulb in a scene of splendidly odd seduction. The peddler will return in the final tale, in which his younger self, a deserter from the Russian army, encounters a photographer who “spoke of bromides, emulsion,” but was talking “always, about only one thing: light.” Weil’s other theme is scientific progress, and the two motifs often intersect. “Long Bright Line” follows a girl’s fascination with flight and airplanes. The coming of electricity is featured in a brooding tale in which a remote town has waited decades for the miracle and then, in 1940, battles the power company that has bypassed it as being unprofitable. “Angle of Reflection” tells of youths in the early 1990s pondering life’s dangers, mean parents, and the Soviets’ "space mirror," a science-fiction–ish technology that aimed to boost productivity by lengthening the hours of daylight. While the gadget failed in real life, Weil imagines it into a not-distant future and the problems of life without real darkness, as he did extensively in The Great Glass Sea. One of three stories that refer to these mirrors is the appropriately noir “The First Bad Thing.” A woman of 20 and an older man find a physical connection, “like mountain cats tied tail to tail,” and then flee murky pasts, traveling north to Canada in the “long dusk” the mirrors have left in search of true night.

Weil’s stories are engrossing, persuasively detailed, and written with a deep affection for the way language can, in masterful hands, convey us to marvelous new worlds.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2701-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

Did you like this book?


This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet