AN END TO CHIVALRY: A Short Novel and Five Stories by Tom Cole

AN END TO CHIVALRY: A Short Novel and Five Stories

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Americans abroad are the subject of these youthful stories with their touch of intelligence and an unadorned honesty that in part makes up for their lack of formal substance. Only the title story, An End to Chivalry, is extended beyond incident as it takes two tall blonde Americans to Sicily, where the husband lives with his head in the clouds, in an atmosphere of abstraction until he is forced to return from classic gazing to the equally classic demands of the present and his own cuckoldry. The annoying potential of the present to displace the promises of the past arises as well in the encounter of a sculptor and poet with a grandfather in Greece who had lived in Worcester, Mass. Classic settings aside, there are two stories drawn from experience in Russia: Familiar Usage in Leningrad finds an American guide and a Russian translator fading together and apart in the one uncomplicated relationship in Russia; Theatre Party neatly reverses the message of The Three Sisters and serves to point up the resentment, not untinged with an outreaching angst, of Russians for the rich ladies, emigres and earnest students who beset them (""Out of Moscow!""). A slight episode in Britain sets off The Friendly Cycle, an endurance match entered upon in retribution for an unwanted and unnatural sexual approach. And The Song of Lorenzo the Magnificent, in which an old-young couple must act their age for an audience of wishful, wistful elders sets the tone for these aware yet circumscribed pieces.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1965
Publisher: Little, Brown