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Thirteen stories from a modern master
"Brodsky is a master both of technique and of language, his sentences positively crackling with unexpected insights."--Publishers Weekly
"Brodsky possesses a masterly control of diction and rhythm, an often startling metaphoric gift, and a range of effects extending from Swiftian bluntness to Proustian elaboration."--The New York Review of Books
"He brings the reader to reflect anew on ways of knowing and truths of being in an uncertain world."--The New York Times Book Review
In these 13 short stories, Brodsky ( Detour ) starts with recognizable characters and settings and soon veers into the avant-garde. The narrator of the title piece comes to Paris ``to pursue what bears the configuration of a shameless activity. We will call it X.'' Tantalizing glimpses of Paris are surrounded by arcane remarks about the indecipherable X. In ``Corridor,'' the narrator reports this exchange: ``Reminiscence, in case you aren't aware, is the mother's milk of stasis but hardly of the calm that stasis abjectly craves he told me. He shook his head at what he more than assumed was my smug incomprehension.'' Indeed, Brodsky's smug, metaphysical musings are largely incomprehensible. His pyrotechnical prose is dazzling but ultimately off-putting. He seeks to convey the alienation of modern man (``I succeeded very fast in winning the contempt of the higher-ups,'' confesses a new employee in ``Vocational''), yet seems determined to alienate his audience. And the last tale, ``A Plight,'' sometimes reads like a typographical error (``ansnans ansnan dnsnd788s'').