cover image Master of the Eclipse

Master of the Eclipse

Etel Adnan, . . Interlink, $15 (168pp) ISBN 978-1-56656-779-4

The dozen lyrically descriptive stories in this eclectic collection by Lebanese-born poet and novelist Adnan range over a startling period of time and place, from 1930s Beirut through early '60s San Francisco to the first Gulf War. In the title story, the narrator meets the poet Buland in Italy, just as “the bombs are falling mercilessly on Iraq.” Buland recounts his abject life story, especially his harrowing guilt in having loved the generous and larger-than-life Saddam Hussein. In “The Power of Death,” a similarly haunted poet, Wassef, asks the narrator, based in Paris, to meet him in Stockholm, where he is literally losing his mind from grief over the death of a woman he had loved and left many years before. The first-person narrator in the wise, reflective story “First Passion” summons her enduring affection for a girlhood friend as a way of recapturing her richly textured life—and fending off death. Nostalgic and meanderingly autobiographical, these powerful emotional tales seem almost magically wrought, offering a flavor of the author's own vast experience and travels. (July)