Queer Lives

Sex has almost ceased to be a topic in contemporary fiction and has become a terrain. No frontiers of expression need to be advanced; there is nothing in sexual practice or language that has not been used by now in novels. Now sexual novels can take place comfortably within those …

Novels from Abroad

“For years I have been keeping the Spanish Civil War at bay,” Henry de Montherlant wrote in his notebooks in 1938, “as I know how to keep things at bay. The reason is that I would become too involved…It is more important that I should finish Les Garçons.” Twenty-three years …

O’Hara and Others

The American tall tale, according to Constance Rourke, dates from about the third quarter of the eighteenth century and side-winds its way through Washington Irving and Mark Twain well into the twentieth century. A chief function of the tall tale is as free-flowing conduit of history, a catch-all vehicle that, …

Citizen Field

In later life Marshall Field said of his youth that it was the last period when being rich was pure, careless fun. His biography suggests, although this is not its intent, that his life was part of the last period—not yet ended—when being a liberal is pure, caring fun. One …

Traveling Light

These are two sad little books. Each deals with the travels of a writer under the auspices of his government. In 1962 Robert Frost spent two weeks in the Soviet Union. In 1960 Viktor Nekrasov, a Russian novelist, spent two weeks in the United States. Frost remarked toward the end …

New European Fiction

Three of the four works of fiction considered here are of Austrian origin. (It is curious that, in the spate of books, articles, whole issues of magazines, dealing with change or non-change in Germany, so little attention goes to Austria, which, in this century, is second only to Germany as …

Nothing to Lose But Your Chains

“The Magic Box,” which is the longest story in Alan Sillitoe’s new collection, is also the best. A working-class couple in a Midlands city fall into estrangement following the accidental death of their child. The husband, who was a radioman in the Army, buys a short-wave set with his share …

Season In Hell

One reason for the foolishly deplored lack of great new novels is not, perhaps, the absence of great talents but that the great subjects are now too large. Tolstoy could, with one campaign, encompass the whole idea of war as he knew it, but could even Tolstoy have dealt with …