FALSE GODS by Louis Auchincloss

FALSE GODS

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 The title of Auchincloss's latest fiction is a variation on his Golden Calves (1988), but his moral sensibility remains the same--an insider's understanding of the sins and vanities of upper- class Manhattanites. In these six stories, Auchincloss recasts Greek myth into contemporary fable--none of his errant protagonists are one- dimensional fools or miscreants, but good men led astray by anger, ambition, fashion, and other all-consuming passions. In ``Ares, God of War,'' a Virginia gentleman allows his antebellum sense of honor to degenerate into postwar revenge as an unethical New York lawyer. ``Hermes, God of the Self-Made Man'' is a tale worthy of the best Howells--a successful Yale-educated lawyer during the first half of this century sacrifices love, loyalty, and his identity as a Jew for his ambitions, all of which he justifies by his sense of victimization. In ``Hephaestus, God of Newfangled Things,'' a once- brilliant architect regrets the compromises he made in marriage and career. A crisis of faith underpins ``Polyhymnia, Muse of Sacred Song,'' in which an asexual son of a society matron converts to Catholicism, only to abandon his vocation in a burst of Protestant doubt about Roman dogmatism. ``Charity, Goddess of Our Day'' examines the little-noticed (but perhaps greatest) vanity of the rich, and asks: Charity at what cost? A retired lawyer proposes a morally dubious estates scheme to a wealthy dowager, but is chastened by his own wife. ``Athene, Goddess of the Brave'' strikes a therapeutic note: a grown-up mamma's boy, plagued throughout his life by fears of unmanliness and cowardice, confronts his demons after a particularly humiliating event. In the great world of Auchincloss, the ends never justify the means, and the rich are held to the highest of ethical standards. This may not be a major addition to the author's oeuvre, but it's an always welcome message, delivered with grace and elegance.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-395-60475-3
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1991




MORE BY LOUIS AUCHINCLOSS

NonfictionA VOICE FROM OLD NEW YORK by Louis Auchincloss
by Louis Auchincloss
FictionLAST OF THE OLD GUARD by Louis Auchincloss
by Louis Auchincloss
FictionTHE HEADMASTER’S DILEMMA by Louis Auchincloss
by Louis Auchincloss

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

IndieWORTHY OF PROMETHEUS by Plum McCauley
by Plum McCauley