STRANGERS AND GRAVES by Peter S. Feibleman


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Southern writers addicted to the Gothic landscape and to what Mary McCarthy called ""the embroidering lie"" usually find their altar of inspiration not in Faulkner, but in his more febrile descendants: Capote, McCullers, Welty, and, of course, Tennessee Williams. Ambling under the magnolia blossoms, wrapped in flimsy secrets, full of genteel pride or bruised with loneliness, the strained, flamboyant figures these authors have given us are now almost as beloved as Dick Tracy. That being so, Feibleman's two short Louisiana novels, each an expert example of the genre, should prove a pastime for lovers of decadent Dixie. ""The Death of Danaus"" has a sweetly mystifying, sinister heroine undergoing some sort of suppressed incestuous relationship with her daddy, while flashbacks unfold, a quaintly hysterical aunt acts as chorus, and allusions to Grecian mythology barely bubble on the surface. ""Fever"" is more solid by far, an almost folksy, tender, funny account of a cat-house madam and a little boy whom she mothers in her odd way. The dialogue has a number of deft passages, the characterizations of Ladybird and her retinue of fluttery, girlish whores sparkle poignantly, and the adolescent narrator doesn't cloy. For his two concluding novellas, Feibleman unwisely changes locales, and sounds like a botched Unanmuno translation. Here the rain in Spain falls mainly in cliches.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1966
Publisher: Atheneum