THE ORCHID STORIES by Kenward Elmslie


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A strange, rather incomprehensible, collection of stories, odes and assorted phantasmagoria with a recurring ""orchid"" motif, apparently symbolizing something more than flowers to the chichi group of world travelers and sanitarium dwellers with whom the narrator more or less intermittently hangs around. You'll find Bubbers/Mummers, ""Rounding The Leaf,"" Dr. Schmidlapp who is interested in the ""interrelationships between air, weather, family ties, dreams, and 'breath pulse,'"" the Holy City Geography Book, the Blue Institute which studies links between laughter and history, assigning sex more guidance sheets as physical therapy -- all of this forms a coherent aesthetic whole whose content is nonetheless inexplicable and unanalyzable in the usual sense. An extremely demanding work that makes Borges seem like a particularly easy stretch of I-80, precious but never slick (as Gass and Barth can be), a small feather in the lonely cap of that rarefied bunch who still believe the avant-garde can come up with something interesting to say.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1973
Publisher: Doubleday