Tales of Yesteryear CL

Louis Auchincloss, Author
Louis Auchincloss, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $21.95 (230p) ISBN 978-0-395-69132-8
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
Hardcover - 324 pages - 978-0-7862-0235-5
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Beneath the tidy surfaces of moneyed lives seethe overweening ambition, marital warfare, self-delusion, greed, sibling rivalry and sexual secrets in these eight diverse stories by the noted author of, most recently, Three Lives . Set in various decades of this century, the tales reveal a master storyteller deftly deflating hypocrisy, insatiable egos and the pretensions of some cruel, unfeeling characters. In ``The Poetaster,'' a wealthy 42-year-old industrialist, discreetly taking refuge at an expensive sanitorium after being unmasked as the maker of lewd telephone calls to pretty girls in 1950s-era Southampton, Long Island, chronicles the disintegration of his life after he sacrificed his dreams of becoming a poet-painter. ``A Day and Then a Night'' shows an idealistic young literary scholar, determined to enlist in the fight against Hitler even before the U.S. has entered the war, clashing with his isolationist parents. The 1960s counterculture serves as a backdrop to ``The Man of Good Will,'' in which an alienated, drug-derailed college senior goes over the edge when he learns the identity of his biological father. Though his style is rather attenuated at times, Auchincloss's keen social observation, pitch-perfect dialogue and gift for dramatic confrontation are as effective as ever. (Mar.)
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