Ten Tales Tall and True

Alasdair Gray, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-15-100090-6
The truthful tales are better than the tall ones in this rambunctious collection by the Scottish author of the well-received Poor Things. The title itself is a whopper: there are 12 stories, a prologue and an epilogue. The humorous entries range from silly to archly playful. ``The Marriage Feast'' parodies Kingsley Amis's account of a run-in with Dylan Thomas, casting Christ in the mad poet's role. In ``The Trendelenburg Position,'' a dentist muses on the possibilities of virtual reality to a prone (and silent) patient. ``Near the Driver'' takes a mocking look at Britain's railroad future, in which computer-controlled trains announce precisely when they will crash. These pieces are amusing enough, but when Gray lays aside his trademark wit to deal with characters in his native Scotland (``Houses & Small Labour Parties'' and ``You'') or to tenderly portray an elderly botanist (``Time Travel''), his deft prose and thoughtful insights render the cleverness of the other tales a bit shallow in comparison. Gray's witty touch is also evident in the quirky black-and-white drawings interspersed with the text. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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