Wondermonger

Michael Rothschild, Author Viking Books $17.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-670-83326-9
Rothschild's ( Rhapsody of the Heart ) lapidary use of language is itself nearly the central figure in these 10 stories. It would be a mistake, however, for the author's dazzling style to blind the reader to the urgency of the themes here--birth and death are twin motifs of these short fictions. The most exquisite pieces are also the briefest: ``The Toad,'' in which a pregnant woman watches a garden snake engulf a toad that she has admired for ``its serene frowning presence, black egg-shaped pupil in a bronze rim''; and ``A Land Without Fossils,'' in which a father puts aside his painting of a dead bird to confront the lushly exotic realm his five-year-old son has imagined as ``the place where he had lived before he was a son.'' Elsewhere, men breed animals just as easily as they kill (``Dog in the Manger''); in the title story, a man who falsely reports another's death assists in the birth of the latter's child. This collection is to be savored for its marriage of voluptuous artistry and unblinking honesty. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/05/1990
Release date: 06/01/1990
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