THE ORACLE AT STONELEIGH COURT by Peter Taylor

THE ORACLE AT STONELEIGH COURT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Wraiths, ghosts, and visitations play through and aerate some of the ten stories and three one-act plays here. They're paranormal influences that serve mostly to apply the brakes to characters who- -as usual in Taylor's sneaky comedics--do the right thing for the wrong reasons and the wrong for the right. This spooky element has participated in Taylor's fiction from the first, but before now has simply been known as the past. In the best piece here, the title novella, a young Memphis WW II hero, partly amnesiac, returns home to find himself visited by a dying psychic aunt and an old girlfriend--both from Washington, D.C. Both the dying aunt and the girlfriend seem to be on an obscure mission to restore their own honors and rightful places--and the war hero, somewhat of a newly blankened slate, finds himself manipulated without quite ever knowing how. Meanwhile, there are a few classic Taylor-style stories--``At the Art Theatre''; ``In the Waiting Room'' (outside an intensive-care unit); and one very old, very great story, ``An Overwhelming Question,'' that Taylor has redone--but the longish pieces, such as the novella and ``The Witch of Owl Mountain Springs,'' suffer somewhat from repetitiveness and padding. Still, even they often yield familiar pleasures--is there an American male writer more appreciative than Taylor of young women in groups?--and the interesting new subtheme (quite in keeping with the rest of Taylor's work) of amnesia: its healing, inclusive clemency (``...since I do not remember anything, I cannot therefore deny anything'').

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41990-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993