More Shapes Than One

Fred Chappell, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (197p) ISBN 978-0-312-06418-1
Prolific poet and novelist Chappell ( Midquest ; Brighten the Corner Where You Are ) is a Southern writer whose baroque, eloquent style pays little heed to minimalist trends. Some of the 13 stories here, many published originally in journals, offer fanciful fictional portraits of such disparate figures as Offenbach, Linnaeus and Hart Crane (``Barcarole,''``Linnaeus Forgets,'' ``Weird Tales''). Others, mostly about plain folks with names like Uncle Alvin and Miss Prue, are equally surreal and filled with fantastic goings-on. In the alternate world of the disturbing story ``Alma,'' cowboys drive strings of ``shoats,'' which turn out to be women, who are treated as cows or slaves. (Piers Anthony's science fiction story ``In the Barn'' may have been an inspiration.) Chappell's writing is in the tradition of Ambrose Bierce and H. P. Lovecraft; florid ironies are coupled with dense and inexplicable, sometimes macabre twists of plot. Something in the flow of words and images cloys, though, and Chappell, while tremendously gifted, exhibits a self-consciousness that can get between the reader and these stories. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-312-08265-9
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-4668-6050-6
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