The Complete Butcher's Tales

Rikki Ducornet, Author, Ducomet Rikki, Author Dalkey Archive Press $19.95 (162p) ISBN 978-1-56478-043-0
Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark provides the epigraph; his Jabberwocky donates the title of one story, ``Brillig''; and something of his creepy whimsy--mixed with a pinch of Chekhov and a hint of Rod Serling, among others--informs all 54 of these short pieces, 30 of which appeared in a limited Canadian edition in 1980. Best known for her Tetralogy of Elements novels, a series that recently concluded with The Jade Cabinet , Ducornet here offers a brilliant, refreshingly varied collection: a shoe salesman in Florida, apparently modeled on her maternal grandfather, inspires ``Shoes and Shit''; a mysterious flying jade saucer that blots out the sun and presages other more vile desecrations is the subject of ``The Jade Planet''; in ``The Imaginary Infancy of Heinrich Schliemann,'' the young archeologist's father tries to determine his future through copromancy. Unhinged old women, fey children vaguely menaced and menacing pubescent girls also populate these stories, which are all told in prose of such beauty that one can't help silently mouthing the words. Fluid, studied, almost overripe, it is also intensely visual: ``A mature albino ape, its heart pierced by an arrow, falls from a tropical tree. As he falls he attempts to catch the bloody ropes spouting from his breast. In truth his wound is fathomless, a mortal fracture in the body of the world.'' (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
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