The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert

Ward S. Just, Author
Ward S. Just, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $22.95 (389p) ISBN 978-0-395-53756-5
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
Twenty-one stories, written between 1972 and 1989, amply demonstrate that novelist Just ( Jack Gance ) is also a master of short fiction. In such settings as the warrens of Capitol Hill, the spacious retreats of Chicago's moneyed North Shore, the hotel rooms of war correspondents, he gathers and unflinchingly observes characters who perceive themselves as ``insiders''; they have mastered the unwritten codes of power and, measuring their success, laud one another: ``We don't have to finish sentences, do we?'' Just is not afraid of ambiguity, and some of his heroes balance cynicism with the shamelessly romantic. ``Burns,'' for example, introduces a CIA bureaucrat trained in the Foreign Service; he orchestrates the covert invasion of an African nation but dreams of the Congress of Vienna and plays backgammon as ``a substitute for diplomacy.'' The narratives unfurl with bravura pacing, as in the exquisitely structured ``Honor, Power, Riches, Fame, and the Love of Women,'' the tale of a congressman who believes that the artist and the politician are ``brothers,'' each impelled ``to reproduce his fantasies so persuasively that other disappointed souls are--consoled.'' Sophisticated and developed with consummate skill, these stories will add to Just's literary stature. (May)
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