Advance, Retreat: Selected Short Stories

Richard Rive, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (121p) ISBN 978-0-312-03689-8
Though banned in South Africa, Rive's stories about his homeland found an appreciative audience in Europe and America. He was murdered in his home near Cape Town this past June. The 12 stories collected here confirm that the silencing of his distinctive voice is a deplorable loss. Arranged chronologically, most of the narratives have benefited from the author's updating and rewriting specifically for this volume. Beginning with the award-winning ``Daggersmoker's Dream'' (1955) they reveal a spare, direct prose style, a deft ear for dialogue, and a bitter, cutting perception of the madness of existence under apartheid. If some of the situations seem contrived, they are nonetheless appropriate to the harsh realities they reflect. The title story, which is the finale of the collection, best captures the idiocy of the racial policy that leaves South Africans of all colors at odds with themselves. ``Retreat'' is the name of a secondary school where a black principal is obsessed with Shakespeare. The coupling of the school's name with ``Advance,'' its inspirational motto, mirrors the racial schizophrenia that is the subject of many of these tales. In ``Drive-In,'' an ``ostentatiously progressive and liberal'' white woman (``Everything about you people fascinates me'') patronizes blacks with her half-baked ideas. Strong woodcuts by South African artist Cecil Skotnes augment Rive's bleak but honest vision. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1990
Release date: 02/01/1990
Paperback - 978-0-312-04772-6
Hardcover - 121 pages - 978-0-86486-014-9
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