The Last Lovely City: Stories

The Last Lovely City: Stories

by Alice Adams
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The Last Lovely City: Stories 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Love makes the world and the middle aged characters in Alice Adams's fifth short story collection go round. In the incisive prose style that we've come to expect from the acutely perceptive Ms. Adams, The Last Lovely City is a series of vignettes, oftimes snapshots, of those beyond the blush of youth who are disillusioned by or disappointed in love but will nonetheless give amor another go-around. In settings as diverse as San Francisco and a down-at-the-heels Mexican beach resort those who should know better reach for the heart's brass ring. 'His Women,' the opening piece introduces Carter, a sometimes befuddled and impotent academician. Estranged from his first wife who couldn't 'stand this tacky town a minute longer,' he finds solace with a family friend, Meredith, whom he later marries. After their union falters, the couple meet again to speak of reconciliation. Mutely indecisive, Carter listens to Meredith as he mentally revisits the other women in his life. In 'The Haunted Beach' we find an art dealer, Penelope, and a judge, now lovers, visiting a resort once frequented by Penelope and her former en amorata. An ill choice for a new beginning, to say the least. Another couple are drawn together by 'the greatest sex,' while a fading, neurotic actress focuses longing on her beloved cat. Sometimes self-centered, often psychologically dependent, the characters created by Ms. Adams are vividly limned yet elusive, leaving the reader wishing to know more yet feeling that all has been told. Among the strongest of the tales is the title piece, The Last Lovely City, in which a widower, Dr. Benito Zamora, recalls the free clinics he has established in Mexico. Childless, he and his lovely wife, his 'white soul' were happy, but now, he wonders. 'Is no one able to imagine the daily lack, the loss with which he lives?' Part Two, beginning with 'The Drinking Club' consists of four interdependent stories, almost resulting in a novella. Julian, a California psychiatrist, is married to Karen, an alcoholic concert pianist. He is involved in an affair with Lila, another psychiatrist. They reflect the passivity of Ms. Adams' other characters: 'I do wonder what we'll do next, don't you?' Julian remarks to Lila. 'But even as Lila smiles at his phrasing, at the implication of their being watchers rather than participants.......She too wonders what will be next, for them. However, she only murmurs (somewhat falsely), `Do we have to do anything?'' Again, lives not fully lived but placed on lay-away. Ennui, even in the deft hands of Ms. Adams, tends to pale. One may come away from The Last Lovely City admiring the author's narrative gifts while, at the same time, wanting to light a fire under her characters.