Collected Stories

Djuna Barnes, Author, Philip Herring, Editor, Philip Herring, Illustrator
Djuna Barnes, Author, Philip Herring, Editor, Philip Herring, Illustrator Sun and Moon Press $24.95 (480p) ISBN 978-1-55713-226-0
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-1-55713-355-7
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A cult writer whose melodramatically unhappy life brought her into the Left Bank orbit of expatriate authors ranging from James Joyce to Gertrude Stein, Barnes employed an elliptical, sometimes surrealistic style as an elaborate screen for the autobiographical sources and raw pain that lie behind much of her work. Unfortunately, many of the 41 tales collected here--her entire short-story output-- highlight her weaknesses as a writer rather than her strengths. Barnes was not a particularly adept shaper of plot, and often the deeper roots of her characters' grief and erratic behavior are too obscure to discern. In many of her stories, such as ""The Rabbit,"" characters exhibit an intensity of feeling that seems to go way beyond the story's initial context, making them appear merely pathological. While her best tales--""A Night Among the Horses,"" ""Oscar,"" ""The Doctors,"" ""Saturnalia"" and, most prominently, ""Spillway""--are fit company for her classic novel Nightwood, most of the fiction here will be of interest chiefly to scholars. (Apr.)
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