Collected Short Stories
Everyone must have an eagle, said Gide, meaning everyone must attempt the best. And Robert Graves- a general practitioner of literature, poet, novelist, scholar, critic- has often done just that. Here, however, he's winging about on the flights of sheerest fancy or sitting up in the branches mock-owled in wisdom. The tales, written and published (New Yorker, Punch, Post) over the last 40 years, fall into three groups. The English scene: seemingly fugitive pieces from his autobiographical masterpiece Goodbye To All That, or batty, brisk studies of middleclass eccentrics like Thirkell or Saki; the Roman forays: antiquity jazzed-up or debunked; and the Majorca set; Graves' experiences as an expatriate c/o local color, commotions, comics-the Count who used witchcraft to kill his trolloping spouse; a haunting by Turtle Folk; a visit from Ava Gardner- yes, Ava- she reads the Oxford Book of English Verse in the washroom to escape wolves. Throughout Mr. Graves sprinkles charm, wit and forgetfulness. Early hammock reading.