The Atonement and Other Storiesby Louis Auchincloss
No one else writes about the moral life of America's moneyed class with anything approaching Louis Auchincloss's understanding, sympathy, irony, and humor. In this, his first book of short fiction since the acclaimed Collected Stories, he again brings us news that no other writer can deliver, news about how America's great families and fortunes are run and the axes… See more details below
No one else writes about the moral life of America's moneyed class with anything approaching Louis Auchincloss's understanding, sympathy, irony, and humor. In this, his first book of short fiction since the acclaimed Collected Stories, he again brings us news that no other writer can deliver, news about how America's great families and fortunes are run and the axes and crises on which they turn. Here is how the privileged view their privilege - some with smugness, some with style, some with a crushing sense of civic and personal responsibility. Here is how the rich marry, how they divorce, and, more important, why. Here, definitively and indelibly, is the eastern seaboard's Wasp establishment - sometimes in its glory, more often in its decline, and always with its values, assumptions, and increasingly fragile sense of self held up for our scrutiny by a master, the most subtle critic of American manners since Edith Wharton.
A Protestant moralist and the chronicler of a social class in decline, Auchincloss focuses here on characters who try to atone for past misdeeds. The title piecea mini Bonfire of the Vanitiesmeasures the moral complexities of financial manipulation in the contemporary marketplace, and poses the situational ethics of its fast-track protagonist against the seemingly unworldly wisdom of his father, a prep-school master. A railroad magnate atones for a life dedicated to business by assembling in old age a world-class art collection, much to the dismay of his heirs ("Ars Gratia Artis"). When a successful Manhattan lawyer divorces his first wife for his partner's, he makes up for this scandal by retreating to a quiet life as a professor, much to the chagrin of his ambitious second wife ("The Last Great Divorce"). While one heartless tycoon rationalizes his empire building ("Realist in Babylon"), a young lawyer abandons his career to follow his genuine interests ("The Hidden Muse"). A famous litigator at age 80 confronts, with some shock, the possibility that his wife understood him best when she steered him from a path leading to the Supreme Court ("The Golden Voice"). Auchincloss continues to be interested in the "spheres of influence" specific to gender in the WASP ascendancy. A longish tale of two sisters, "Honoria and Attila," neatly captures the various choices open to women of a certain class, as does "Geraldine," in which a society widow decides not to challenge her second husband's will, sacrificing a fortune for the moral high ground.
One of the last literary chroniclers of the upper classand a voice still very much worth heeding.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.84(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >