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The Means of Escape
Synopses & Reviews
With the death of Penelope Fitzgerald this year, the literary world lost one of its finest, most original, and most beloved authors. Fitzgerald began her writing career at age sixty and wrote eight remarkable novels in rapid succession over the next twenty years. Completed just before her death, THE MEANS OF ESCAPE is Fitzgerald's first new book since the best-selling THE BLUE FLOWER. Never before have her short stories been collected in book form, and none of them has ever appeared in the United States.
THE MEANS OF ESCAPE showcases this incomparable author at her most intelligent, her funniest, her best. Like her novels, these brilliant stories are miniature studies of the endless absurdity of human behavior. Concise, comic, biting, and mischievous, they are vintage Fitzgerald. Roaming the globe and the ages, the stories travel from England to France to New Zealand and from today to the seventeenth century. Uniting them is a universal theme: the shifting balance between those who are in positions of power--by wealth, status, or class--and those who, deceptively, are not. THE MEANS OF ESCAPE memorializes a life and a writer guided by a generous but unwavering moral gaze.
The last book and only collection of short stories by Penelope Fitzgerald fittingly showcases her at her wisest, her funniest, her best. Like her novels, these stories are "mordantly funny, morally astute . . . [as] they plumb the endless absurdities of the human heart" (Washington Post Book World). Roaming the globe and the ages, the stories travel from England to France to New Zealand and from today to the seventeenth century and back again.
Now featuring an introductory essay by A. S. Byatt and two newly published stories, this Mariner edition of THE MEANS OF ESCAPE "serves as an elegiac gift to dedicated fans of her award-winning novels and a tantalizing introduction for new readers" (Entertainment Weekly). It memorializes a writer guided by a generous but unwavering moral gaze and proves once more "why [Fitzgerald] will endure" (Los Angeles Times Book Review).
Like her bestselling novels, Fitzgerald's brilliant stories are miniature studies of the endless absurdity of behavior, seen through the author's generous but unwavering moral gaze. Concise, comic, biting, and mischievous, they are vintage Fitzgerald.
About the Author
PENELOPE FITZGERALD wrote many books small in size but enormous in popular and critical acclaim over the past two decades. Over 300,000 copies of her novels are in print, and profiles of her life appeared in both The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In 1979, her novel Offshore won Britain's Booker Prize, and in 1998 she won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for The Blue Flower. Though Fitzgerald embarked on her literary career when she was in her 60's, her career was praised as "the best argument.. for a publishing debut made late in life" (New York Times Book Review). She told the New York Times Magazine, "In all that time, I could have written books and I didn’t. I think you can write at any time of your life." Dinitia Smith, in her New York Times Obituary of May 3, 2000, quoted Penelope Fitzgerald from 1998 as saying, "I have remained true to my deepest convictions, I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?"
Table of Contents
Introduction by A. S. Byatt ix The Means of Escape 1 The Prescription 23 Desideratus 35 Beehernz 47 The Axe 63 The Red-Haired Girl 79 Not Shown 95 At Hiruharama 105 The Likeness 119 Our Lives Are Only Lent to Us 135
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