"A masterwork. . . . [Boyd is] one of the finest authors of our time." —Forth Worth Star-Telegram
“Brilliant. . . . Burns with the kind of artistry that turns a piece of short fiction into a work of imagination that expands beyond the boundaries of the page. . . [Boyd’s] breadth and depth and control are simply breathtaking.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Lovely. . . . Elegant. . . . [These stories] deal not simply with art vs. life but with the terrible demands that art makes upon the artist.” —The Washington Post
"Deeply moving. . . . The insights arrived at in Boyd's stories are experienced rather than merely witnessed. They strike us deep, and they stick." —The Boston Globe
"The stories are perfect…Suffused with an understanding of love, desire, and emotional incompetence.”
–M. John Harrison, the Guardian
“A virtuoso range of techniques, Boyd shows here just what he is capable of…The resonance and impact of past events on present lives, and a sense of yearning for love or completion, permeate these perfectly formed snapshots of life at its most mystifying.”
–Ross Gilfillan, The Daily Mail
“Boyd’s remarkable, and almost wholly consistent, gift is to convince us of the roundness, the existence of his characters from the very first sentence.”
–Erica Wagner, The Times
“Short stories by William Boyd are an occasional treat…For those who enjoy what might loosely be called canapé fiction — delicious little morsels that whet the appetite but never sate it — Fascination is a must-read book. Every one of the 16 stories has the patina of craftsmanship…The writing transcends cleverness…An impressively sophisticated offering from a writer whose charms never wane.
–David Robson, The Sunday Telegraph
“Sly and consistently entertaining…Boyd uses the artistic methods of the cinematographer…but he twists them to his own ends…This collection demonstrates Boyd’s versatility as well as his virtuosity. He is as much at home writing about nineteenth-century Vienna as he is twentieth century Cape Cod.
–Sebastian Shakespeare, Literary Review
Boyd (Any Human Heart, etc.) is difficult to pigeonhole. The 14 stories in this book include the supernaturally inflected ("A Haunting," "Visions Fugitives"), the Chekhovian bittersweet ("The Woman on the Beach with a Dog"), the PoMo urban spiel ("Beulah Berlin, an A-Z") and the comedy of dogged lechery. The last is represented by "Adult Video," which, in journal form, records the infidelity of one Edward, a cynical graduate student, and "Fascination," in which the same Edward, married to the girlfriend he cheated on, bungles a brief foray as a freelance journalist by making a pass at a young interviewee. "A Haunting" uses an old horror motif (a man is possessed by the spirit of another man) to illuminate the character of architect Alex Rief. While the story begins well, it concludes rather flatly with a pseudoscientific explanation. Dispossession is the more everyday horror that animates "The Ghost of a Bird," in which a Doctor Moran observes the brief recovery and sudden death of a young brain-damaged soldier, Gerald Gault. Gault, who published a short story shortly before being injured in 1944, has, in his brief recovery, confused his life with that story: "what became real to Gerald Gault was a consoling phantom, a dream, an urgent wish." Boyd's characters are, as a general rule, seeking-and mostly failing-to attain the intensity of some similar imaginative act. Agent, Amanda Urban. 3-city author tour. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Boyd (Any Human Heart) is a writer conversant with enigma, and the 14 stories here (several previously published) present themselves as small puzzles or fables of identity. "The Ghost of a Bird," for example, gives us "Patient 39," whose identity and personality are casualties of war; along the way, who he is-literally-comes out, but he dies before he can retrieve his past, his present, his person. "Adult Video" presents life as if it can be rewound, fast-forwarded, analyzed, examined. "A Haunting," the longest story here, shows a respected architect whose sudden odd compulsions and behaviors, his mind's inability to make himself do as it wants, leave him alien to his own body, out of a fine job and marriage, and arriving at a most unexpected conclusion. These stories are multifaceted little gems, and the thinking about them takes more time (time well spent) than the reading. For any type of library where well-crafted fiction is appreciated.-Robert E. Brown, Minoa Lib., NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Fourteen stories in a third collection from the acclaimed British author (Any Human Heart, 2003, etc.). Most of the tales are about the vanished past, opportunities lost, roads not taken. Several are formally experimental: e.g., a woman filmmaker's efforts (in "Beulah Berlin, an A-Z") to order her chaotic life-in 26 episodic segments, each beginning with a successive letter of the alphabet; and Oxford lecturer and writer Edward Scully's envisioning (in "Adult Video") of his real and imagined lives, structured according to a video-recorder's functions ("Play," "Pause," "Fast-Forward," etc.). Scully also appears in the title story, as the interviewer of a teenaged woman athlete, whose confident vigor politely mocks his own career and personal failures. Too many of these pieces feature artists, writers, and movie people: among them, a European auteur's depressive musings, provoked by unrequited lust for his leading lady ("Notebook No. 9"); an Austrian prostitute's brief encounter with young pianist "Hannes" Brahms ("Fantasia on a Favorite Waltz"); and a septuagenarian author's distillation of his erotic memories into an X-rated filmscript ("The View from Yves Hill," which is rather like a Louis Auchincloss story with sex). "The Woman on the Beach with a Dog" is a tepid imitation of Chekhov's great (similarly titled) story; and "The Ghost of a Bird," which describes a battlefield physician's sympathetic treatment of a grievously wounded soldier (and writer), closely echoes Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. Boyd offers more substantial fare in a taut disclosure (spoken by four narrators) of a spurned lover's revelatory encounter with his old flame and her affable, sinister husband("Incandescence"); and in the nicely imagined and detailed (though somewhat scattered) tale of a contemporary engineer's possession by the ghost of a vengeful 19th-century inventor ("The Haunting"). Thin stuff overall, though. One wonders whether most of these were ideas for unwritten novels. Author tour