Though uneven, this collection of three short stories and a novella nonetheless marks the arrival of a gifted writer. In the stories, which have appeared previously in a small press edition and in literary magazines, the author's ambition overmatches her craft: ``Tales from the Next Village,'' cast as a delicate Chinese fable, is ultimately jejune and Western in its effects; the title story concerns the elaborate, tiresome seduction of a college girl by what seems to be her own over-heated imagination; and ``Materia Prima'' is a coming-of-age melodrama made arch by stage directions and stilted dialogue. However, the previously unpublished novella, ``Sebastian,'' is a sharply focused psychological portrait of a self-possessed Englishman who, during the course of a day bedeviled by mishap, sees his life lurch toward chaos. The author convincingly renders the artsy concerns of both Sebastian and his mate, Sarah, without diminishing the reader's affection for them. The inventive wordplay that conveys the glib side of the characters' relationship gains in resonance as the story unfolds, and suggests the key to understanding the novella's quirky, fictional world. ( June )
Reviewed on: 06/05/1990 Release date: 06/01/1990 Genre: Fiction
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