Three Novellas: A Truth Lover, Pagan's Pilgrimage, & Clapperton

John Herdman, Author Polygon $15.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-948275-37-1
With mixed results, each novella in this Scottish collection centers on a solitary, arrogant protagonist undergoing a self-imposed humbling experience that ultimately heightens his awareness of his place in the world. In ``A Truth Lover,'' Duncan Straiton's decision not to testify after witnessing a pub brawl spurs an affected soul-searching examination (``Yet what is my self?'') cum philosophical speculation (``Had not Jonah become united to the truth of God?'') but never provides the reader with a satisfying understanding of Duncan. It is the honest, likable voice of Horatio Pagan, the narrator of ``Pagan's Pilgrimage'' who decides it is his destiny to rid the universe of a local aristocrat, that best conveys a mental journey. While ``Clapperton,'' the appealing story of a zoologist's sudden decision to humiliate himself at a party, has a more lighthearted tone, it likewise involves an exploration of the human psyche and thus cannot avoid a bittersweet ending. Overall, the anthology's depiction of Scottish life and its unique voices (``Away wi' ye, laddie, there's nae music here!'') will engage American readers. (June)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
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