WINTER'S TALES by Robin Baird-Smith


New Series VIII
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 The eighth edition of this annual anthology is still cosmopolitan but also slighter and more meta-literary than previously. As before, however, the assortment of writers, mostly British, consists of the well-known as well as the relatively new. Muriel Spark offers ``The Girl I Left Behind Me,'' a sketch about a woman who lives in a boardinghouse and has a drudge of a job--the piece finishes with an abrupt surreal bang--and Chaim Potok's ``The Seven of the Address'' is a penetrating story about an old writer who has ``lost her way'': she journeys to a ``cell- like'' room in Israel to find her direction again by moving into mysticism. As almost always in Winter's Tales, Laura Kalpakian also puts in an appearance--here with ``Swann Song,'' a long, zany satire of a conglomerate that takes over a newspaper and of the fired journalists who fight back and win the day. Of the other pieces here: ``Sister Monica's Last Journey,'' by Richard Austin, tells of the odd journey of a dead nun to her resting place; ``Another Kind of Cinderella,'' by Angela Huth, subtly chronicles the travails of a violinist henpecked by his aging mother and lovelorn over a lesbian musician; ``The Death of Daffy Duck,'' by Peter Goldworthy, is about the decline of a friendship between two couples after one of the men chokes on his food and the other saves him. These are all good solid efforts, but the standouts are Will Self's ``The Indian Mutiny,'' about grade-school boys who force a teacher into a breakdown, and Monica Furlong's ``Carla, Cara,'' set in 1939, about Franz, an ÇmigrÇ for whom Carla, a sort of Lady Brett Ashley in miniature, is a ``talisman warding off terror and grief and hatred and loss''--until she turns on him. Like the others, the general quality of these never-before- published stories is still high.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-08922-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1993