This collection of short stories includes "Proofs", a literary thriller which explores the conflict between fact and fiction in life and literature. Also included are "Noel, Noel", "Desert Island Disks" and "Conversation Piece".
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A novella and three offbeat stories represent the return of British culture critic and scholar Steiner (Real Presences, 1989; Martin Heidegger, 1979; etc.) to fiction after more than a decade, displaying his inimitable style and erudition in fine form. More a series of philosophical and existential studies than dramatic fiction, the stories consistently offer the observations of one keenly aware of the wealth of sights and sounds surrounding us. ``Proofs'' interweaves physical disability with an ideological dilemma, as a dedicated Italian Marxist and peerless proofreader finds himself at a double loss when his eyesight begins to fail just at the historical moment when events in Eastern Europe announce the collapse of the Soviet Union. A member of a Communist splinter group, he struggles against the inevitable, engaging in a nightlong but ultimately inconclusive debate with a comrade, a priest, over the brutal methods of both Marxism and Catholicism, and denying his increasing visual impairment until he's almost blind. Replaced in his job, he attempts a return to the Italian Communist party only to find it no longer exists. The brief, quixotic ``Desert Island Discs'' describes a series of requests to a unique sound archive--including a belch, the neigh of a horse escaping an ambush, the musical laugh of a woman enjoying her lover, and the cheery whistle of a lad in a painted Crucifixion scene--while ``A Conversation Piece'' presents a wry view of Talmudic scholars in a nit-picking discussion of the story of Abraham and Isaac, disrupted finally by the comments of a boy and woman with their own perspectives on the subject. Rich and challenging, this is a small but significant contribution to what is already an impressive, diverse body of work. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
Steiner has produced an excellent collection of stories, with a novella, "Proofs," as the piece de resistance. "Proofs" tells the story of a Marxist proofreader who, as he is losing his eyesight, debates with a priest the merits of communism, which they both perceive is dying. "Desert Island Disc" is a fanciful series of requests for unusual but specific sounds, done with vivid aural description. "Noel, Noel" is another aurally oriented story with a shocking twist at the end. The last story, "Conversation Piece," is a debate between Talmudic scholars about Abraham's reaction to God's request to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Steiner generally writes literary criticism. But this small collection of fiction, which combines quality prose with deep thought, places him in the company of 20th-century literary giants. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.
- Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md.
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Book Description Penguin Books, 1993. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0140178627
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Book Description Penguin Books, 1993. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0140178627
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