cover image The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories

The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories

Saki, illus. by Edward Gorey.. New York Review Books, $14.95 (164p) ISBN 978-1-59017-624-5

This collection of short stories by the masterful Saki centers on the wealthy denizens of Edwardian England, many of whom prove wicked and haunting. The stories bounce with satire and senselessness, and aim for the middle where, to quote one of his characters, "you have the material for tragedy drawn straight from life." Ultimately, each is a kind of tragedy wrapped in the macabre and seasoned with surrealism, an effect both disturbing and wickedly funny. A talking cat named Tobermory provides excellent diversion for a dinner-party until it is discovered the cat knows all their secrets. Three children take their revenge on their neighbor Octavian Ruttle by allowing his infant daughter to sink into the pigsty's mud. In "Reginald's Drama," Reginald aloofly describes to another how he shall "write a really great drama" that no one will understand; however, "every one will go back to their homes with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction with their lives and surroundings. Then they will put up new wall-papers and forget." The Other asks, "But how about those that have oak paneling all over the house?" To one degree or another, this is the backbone of Saki's literary pretensions. These short brilliant sketches make for a wonderful read. (July)