The Williamsburg Book Club Message Board › TIME TO VOTE: AUGUST
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The poll to vote for August's selection is up until next Tuesday morning (6/26). Descriptions below, vote here.
Fancies and Goodnights (New York Review Books) by John Collier (440 pgs)
Intense like poems, compressed like epigrams, short stories have always inclined to the lyrical and biting. No story writer ever bit more sharply or wrote more gracefully than John Collier. When I first encountered his work, twenty-five years ago, I was shocked by his plots and delighted by his cruelty; now I take my delight in the dark silky stuff of his prose style, and the shock lies in his faultless execution and in his mastery of craft. If you don’t know his work, you owe yourself the pleasure—the indispensable pleasure—of Collier.— Michael Chabon. Here is a world of moonshine and madness, of suburbia invaded by fiends and angels, of magic spells, grotesque melodrama and lunatic farce, surprising, ludicrous, terrifying.— The New York Times. In this collection, Collier uses clever, evocative prose to tell dozens of brief tales that vault off at peculiar, fantastical angles with often startlingly—and amusingly—cruel conclusions….At his best it is a mystery how he fell from attention. Erased from history for half a century like a character in one of his stories, Collier deserves rediscovery.—Rob Haynes, Time Out (London). Preponderantly from the New Yorker, these haunted lullabies and sanguine whimsies which range from the civilized horror of Saki to extravagant parody, display an affectionate familiarity with evil, sharpen drama with irony.—Kirkus Reviews
A Fairly Honourable Defeat by Iris Murdoch (432 pgs)
In a dark comedy of errors, Iris Murdoch portrays the mischief wrought by Julius, a cynical intellectual who decides to demonstrate through a Machiavellian experiment how easily loving couples, caring friends, and devoted siblings can betray their loyalties. As puppet master, Julius artfully plays on the human tendency to embrace drama and intrigue and to prefer the distraction of confrontations to the difficult effort of communicating openly and honestly.
The Locusts Have No King by Dawn Powell (286 pages)
No one has satirized New York society quite like Dawn Powell, and in this classic novel she turns her sharp eye and stinging wit on the literary world, and "identifies every sort of publishing type with the patience of a pathologist removing organs for inspection." Frederick Olliver, an obscure historian and writer, is having an affair with the restively married, beautiful, and hugely successful playwright, Lyle Gaynor. Powell sets a see-saw in motion when Olliver is swept up by the tasteless publishing tycoon, Tyson Bricker, and his new book makes its way onto to the bestseller lists just as Lyle's Broadway career is coming apart. "For decades Dawn Powell was always just on the verge of ceasing to be a cult and becoming a major religion." -- Gore Vidal