cover image Modern Library Floor Display

Modern Library Floor Display

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Modern Library. Modern Library, $15.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-60043-5

People are seldom what they seem in this provocative collection of seven novellas from a writer who has been publishing in the New Yorker since the 1940s and whose Collected Stories was nominated for a National Book Award in 1975. In the one previously unpublished piece, ""Women Men Don't Talk About,"" the children of an Irish-American seamstress spin a powerful myth around her absent husband until a charismatic stranger threatens to tear it apart. Women do most of the talking in all of these tales, while Calisher (In the Slammer with Carol Smith) unfolds around them sagas of infidelity, coming-of-age and family secrets. These novellas are full of complex characters, some worthy of their own full-length novels: the mysterious Dr. Bhatta and his uncomfortable neighbor, John Garner, in ""Tale for the Mirror""; the tragic Guy Callendar and his ill-matched friends, Sligo and Marion, in ""Extreme Magic""; and Tot and Nola, an unusual couple clinging to the fringes of the exclusive horse-race crowd in ""Saratoga, Hot."" Although she has sometimes been criticized for the density of her prose, Calisher's descriptions are undeniably evocative: ""The air, once past the train-smell, came in pure and lively, the fresh vanilla perspiration of spring."" For the sheer reading pleasure and challenge of dazzling writing, this collection is a winner. (Nov.)