Life Being the Best & Other Stories

Kay Boyle, Author New Directions Publishing Corporation $18.95 (140p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1052-2
This book includes 13 of the prolific Boyle's earliest stories, written when she was an American expatriate in Europe during the 1920s and '30s but long out of print. Beginning with the haunting title story, Boyle draws the reader into her characters' strange and yet uncomfortably familiar world, in which every nuance of sadness, frustration and regret is a blow that, once felt, echoes eternally. In ""Life Being the Best,'' a compassionate teacher almost succeeds in freeing Palavicini, a motherless boy, from loneliness, but the youth's pain erupts into violence in the chilling conclusion. Above all, Boyle's intense stories are about the continual quest for love with its inevitable betrayal and loss of innocence. As Coppelia in ``The Meeting of the Stones'' realizes when she overhears the man she desires flirting with another man, ``The words he had made a gift of to her had counterpart in other metal; he had forged their likeness from the genuine gold and spent them freely here and there.'' Though a few tales, such as ``Winter in Italy,'' fail to spring to lifethe characters' sadness and missed connections are more tiresome than intriguingthis is, on the whole, a collection of provocative and impressively honest pieces. Spanier's (Kay Boyle: Artist and Activist) introduction contributes a concise, informative history and analysis of Boyle's early work. (April)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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