CURVES OF PURSUIT by Thomas Farber


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Farber's tenderly compassionate short stories deal with the drifts and starts of people valiantly pursuing coherence in the muddle of living. Here, in his slim, abstract first novel, he fancifully traces the ""curve of pursuit"" in the trajectories of some mystifying family connections--among brothers and their wives, dead and living parents, a triangle of cats, old homes and new ones. . . and spiraling footballs over a Boston playground or the Golden Gate Bridge. The unnamed narrator reviews a childhood, youth, and just-yesterdays with a much-loved older brother; he replays a marriage-worth of remembered scenes and conversations with his wife. And, throughout, there are questions of perception, with family mythology playing a part. Was it true, for instance, that his brother, a linguistic prodigy, once stood on a pitching Dover-to-Calais ferry, ""soaring beyond himself,"" jabbering in five languages to a small crowd? Indeed, childhood memories are untrustworthy, even if childhood's standards still seem ""most authentic. . . and everything since just not quite real."" Brief vignettes of dating and married life become points on a line as two brothers' marriages lose altitude: the first date, when a young man shaves off his beard to exhibit ""who I really am""; the curious losses and enhancements of their lives with animals; one wife is edged out as the brothers play football--a metaphor for trust and then the thrust of aspiration--near ""an imaginary line Of scrimmage."" Can love survive double imaging, when one sees a mythologized image rather than the present, real object of love? Could it be that, as a father-in-law posits, ""Waning passion travels faster than understanding?"" Farber's football/physics metaphors for love's complexities may sometimes become a bit strained or precious. But this gentle web of vignettes and musings, presented with deceptive simplicity and delicate amusement, is impressive work from a special, energetic talent--and sure to engage admirers of his short stories.

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 1983
Publisher: Putnam