The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Charles Richard Johnson, Author Atheneum Books $9.95 (169p) ISBN 978-0-689-11653-7
These eight stories concern themselves with the making of thingsthe ways of which a man or his art can assume significant form. The first, set in 1855, shows an elderly farmer educating and imposing his own values on his African slave, inculcating the young man with an unacknowledged blood lust as well; the last deals with a sorcerer's apprentice who ""studies beauty, who wishes to give it back,'' but doubts his capacity to do so. Johnson (Oxherding Tale and Faith and the Good Thing) need not have similar fears; his ability to conjure is awesome. Whether he is sending an earth doctor to minister to a space creature or readying a middle-aged postal worker for a karate championship, turning people into animals or the reverse, he is always convincing. His stories falter only when he attempts to infuse them with undigested dollops of dialectical material which seems more germane to the author's own knowledge of philosophy than to that of his characters. When spells as potent as these are cast, the stuff from which they are derived can remain in the conjurer's hat. February
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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