Synopses & Reviews
In these nine masterly stories, David Leavitt surveys the complicated politics of human relationships in families and communities, in the present day and over the course of the last century. A "wizard at blending levity and pathos" (Chicago Tribune), Leavitt displays here his characteristic grace and intelligence, as well as his remarkable candor and wit.
Here are stories that range in form from a historical survey to a police interrogation to an e-mail exchange. In "The Infection Scene," a young man's determined effort to contract HIV is juxtaposed with an account of the early life of Lord Alfred Douglas. In the title story, an expatriate tries to make sense of his ex-partner's senseless murder. In "Crossing St. Gotthard," the members of an American family traveling in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century find themselves confronting their own mortality as they plunge into a train tunnel in Switzerland. And in "Black Box," the partner of a man killed in a plane crash is drawn into an unholy alliance with a fellow "crash widow." Moving from Rome to San Francisco to Florida, from fin-de-siccle London to Hollywood in the early 1960s, these stories showcase the agility and sensitivity that have earned David Leavitt his reputation as one of the most innovative voices in contemporary short fiction.
"These new stories by a writer who made it big just after finishing college (at Yale) nearly 20 years ago bear the trademarks of his work. Smoldering homoeroticism billows through deft prose and entertains richly, even if this collection seems weaker than his others. In 'The List,' Leavitt plays innovatively with the format of Laclos's masterpiece Les liaisons dangereuses, a book composed entirely of letters traded among a group of rivals. 'The List' consists of messages traded over e-mail between gay scholars. In 'Crossing St. Gotthard,' we read lines anyone familiar with Leavitt's previous work might immediately ascribe to him: 'And Harold watched Stephen's trousers hungrily, hungrily. Glimpses, guesses. All he had ever known were glimpses, guesses.' Describing desire distinguishes the author's talents. Turning 40 now, David Leavitt is nothing if not consistent." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
Nine masterly stories about the politics of family, community, and history are offered by the author of "Family Dancing", "a wizard at blending levity and pathos" ("Chicago Tribune").
About the Author
David Leavitt's first collection of stories, Family Dancing, was published when he was just twenty-three and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Prize. The Lost Language of Cranes was made into a BBC film, and While England Sleeps was short-listed for the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize. With Mark Mitchell, he coedited The Penguin Book of Short Stories, Pages Passed from Hand to Hand, and cowrote Italian Pleasures. Leavitt is a recipient of fellowships from both the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He divides his time between Italy and Florida.
Table of Contents
Crossing St. Gotthard 1 The Infection Scene 22 Route 80 89 Black Box 93 Speonk 132 The Scruff of the Neck 148 The List 168 Heaped Earth 187 The Marble Quilt 194