Lost in Uttar Pradesh: New and Selected Stories

Lost in Uttar Pradesh: New and Selected Stories

by Evan S. Connell
     
 

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Although he may be best known for his novels Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Bridge, or perhaps for his brilliant biography of Custer, Son of the Morning Star, Evan S. Connell is an undisputed master of the short story. His restraint, concision, and perfect pitch lend themselves beautifully to the form, and he intuitively senses when to explain and when to

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Overview

Although he may be best known for his novels Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Bridge, or perhaps for his brilliant biography of Custer, Son of the Morning Star, Evan S. Connell is an undisputed master of the short story. His restraint, concision, and perfect pitch lend themselves beautifully to the form, and he intuitively senses when to explain and when to let silence stand in speech’s stead. Lost in Uttar Pradesh collects new work by Connell along with some of his earlier masterpieces. Memorable characters like the corpulent Mr. Bemis, Katia and her lion, and a wanderer back from Spain ring true not because their stories are filled with monumental events but because they center around seemingly insignificant events that somehow remain in the mind. Through Connell’s mastery, the most trivial happening, the voice that speaks only once, resonates far beyond the final page.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Virtually all of these 22 stories from octogenarian Connell (Mrs. Bridge) are set in the U.S.-"an insensate, vulgar, flatulent, bloodless...nation of merchant, thugs, Protestants, and barbers"-where trapped characters fantasize of faraway lands. Its women-profiteering grifters and whores ("St. Augustine's Pigeon," "Hooker"), reactionary viragoes ("Mrs. Proctor Bemish"), an evil secretary and a despotic nanny, to name a few-are set up as straw ladies to be torched by reams of male resentment. The misogyny of Mulbach, an embittered insurance salesman who occupies some 90 pages across three stories, as well as the more subdued, exotically inclined sexism of the book's other recurrent voices (Uncle Gates and Koerner), are frequently unpalatable. But they aren't the measure of Connell's vision, which includes inspired depictions among the bile (in particular of Mulbach's young son, Otto, and of a horrifying WWII scene in Guadalcanal). But Connell is also no Céline, whose effulgent prose could transcend his venomous obsessions, and the book ends up trapped in its characters' own unpleasantness. (July)

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Kirkus Reviews
A rich variety of settings, themes and characters distinguishes this collection from Connell (Deus Lo Volt!, 2000, etc.). Several recurring characters function as authorial surrogates and analytical observers. Restless loner William Koerner, for example, appears as a former "john" who solicits conflicting stories about an unstable prostitute he cannot forget ("Hooker"); a dutiful nephew becomes inspired and baffled by his elderly uncle's extravagant tales of foreign travels ("Nan Madol"); and an indignant liberal is appalled by his country's political naivete ("The Cuban Missile Crisis"). A reserved insurance executive known only as Muhlbach (also a prominent figure in Connell's longer fiction) is the dysfunctional paterfamilias of an icy tragicomic family in "Arcturus," which is inspired-as Connell's "Preface" acknowledges-by Thomas Mann's story "Disorder and Early Sorrow." In "St. Augustine's Pigeon," the determined protagonist reinvents himself as a sexual being after his wife's death had rendered him celibate for many years. The complacent suburbanite of Connell's novel Mrs. Bridge is reborn, intriguingly, in the paired figures of a retired stockbroker (in "Proctor Bemis"), who laments his once-great country's descent into mediocrity and dishonesty, and Bemis's still resolutely conservative spouse (in "Mrs. Proctor Bemis"). Among other highlights: a ruthlessly concise allegorical narrative (the Hemingway-like morality tale "Lion"); a chilling image of peril at sea ("Yellow Raft"); and a viciously entertaining depiction of middle-class spiritual crisis ("Noah's Ark"). Connell combines the master fiction writer's skills (brisk characterization, supple stylistic precision) with those ofa compulsive traveler, ruminative antiquarian and borderline-eccentric obsessive.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582434834
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
07/01/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
972,934
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)

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