A TASTE FOR QUIET by Judith Gorog


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Twelve fragile, insufficiently disquieting tales, in most of which a supernatural breeze blows through a commonplace life. The best share motifs and structure with folk tales: In the opener Mama outwits death, who comes into the kitchen demanding one of her children; and in another a good farmer prospers from saving an enchanted pig, his scheming neighbor invites disaster by stealing the pig's bones, and a little girl braves the bones and the neighbor to save them all. But another folklike tale, of a story-tellers' contest, is merely pretentious. There are two two-page slam sketches, one of a little girl named Melinda Alice but called Melinda Malice, who fatally outfoxes herself; and a keener one of a self-sacrificing woman who'll destroy her suitor to feed her need for selfless service. There's a trite tale in which a dying old man hangs around a bit as a guardian angel to set a young man headed for crime on the straight-and-narrow academic path; and another of the cozy accommodation between a wicked old witch and a young good one. The longest and most developed story, in which two teenagers do odd jobs for three old ladies ultimately revealed as Nereids under enchantment, is weakened by the silly and arbitrary nature of the activating premise, the trials imposed on the three by their mysterious brother. Insubstantial in the aggregate, though a few of the stories can stand on their own.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1982
Publisher: Philomel