WINTER'S TALES: New Series V by Robin--Ed. Baird-Smith


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This fifth edition of a revived series with a faintly international flavor is very much concerned with what places make of people: like last year's collection, it's a pleasant alternative to American anthologies. Among the established writers, Graham Greene offers ""The Moment of Truth,"" a moving story about a waiter's friendship with a husband and wife upon whom he waits on the eve of an operation for cancer; William Trevor's ""In Love with Ariadne,"" about a medical student who takes a room below the landlord's daughter (who ""had the look of a saint"") and falls in love with her, darkens tragically; Muriel Spark's ""Open to the Public"" is a sardonic study of the daughter of a once-famous novelist so devoted to her father that she sacrifices her marriage and her happiness to his memory--until her husband returns to her as she tours the houses of famous people (planning her father's museum) and convinces her to ""stop haunting. . .""; and Borges (collaborating with Adolfo Bioy-Casares) offers an ironic epistolary account of a callow consul who is poisoned. Relative newcomers include David Updike (""Geranium,"" a subtle coming-of-age story with the descriptive flair of his father John); Lawrence Scott (""Chameleon,"" an impressionistic account of a boy given to ""meditational trances"" and sexual voyeurism); and Paul Sayer (""Othello's Shadow,"" about a husband so obsessed with following his wife that finally she leaves him). Of the longer stories, the best is Laura Kalpakian's ""Lavee, Lagair, Lamore, Lamaird,"" about the education of a nurse-volunteer and her family in the hands of a tutor who instructs them in a French that consists of ""strings of sound correctly inflected, but signifying nothing."" An import that is all the more satisfying because it makes no claims to being ""the best"" of anything, but offers sturdy selections--most with a strong sense of place and no particular aesthetic bones to pick.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's