Thursday, January 29, 2004

A.S. Byatt, The Little Black Book of Stories.

Byatt is a writer that I don't always enjoy; I loved Possession, for example, but some of her novels bore me to tears. This book, though, is a short & charming collection of tales.

The stories in this collection tend toward the fantastic: a dragon, a woman turning into stone, a fetch haunting/helping an older gentleman. What's intriguing is the way a level of realism is maintained. Only in "The Stone Woman" does the story feel like a good example of magic realism; in the others, the fantastic elements are unimportant compared to the sharp eye for detail and the careful and astonishingly good portrayal of the characters.

I think this is a book worth rereading a couple of times; it's worth collecting for one's shelves.