Original language: English
Wide-ranging in setting and tone, yet linked by their sense of irony and reverence for the past, these 13 short stories reflect in miniature the pseudonymous Trevanian’s chameleonic career as a genre-defying author of popular fiction (Shibumi; Incident at Twenty-Mile). Most of the tales take place in pre- and post-WWII urban environments, most notably the title story, which features a lonely girl dressed up like June Allyson and a gentlemanly stalker who imitates Jimmy Stewart and W.C. Fields. Trevanian tells the story twice, the first version introducing the volume, the second ending it; each has a different denouement, but both are tragic. A similar period mustiness permeates “Snatch Off Your Cap, Kid!”Aan ode to the tramps and hobos of bygone days; “After Hours at Rick’s,” an evocation of the timeless, edgy ennui of last call at a pick-up bar; and “The Sacking of Miss Plimsoll,” the story of an unusual relationship between a bestselling author and his literary secretary. Basque country serves as the backdrop for two of Trevanian’s tales: a young couple come together in a light romantic farce entitled “The Engine of Fate,” and a village idiot improves his lot in life by pretending that he has a fortune to bequeath in “That Fox-of-a-Be?at.” The author ventures even farther afield with “Easter Story,” set in ancient Rome and detailing Pontius Pilate’s first meeting with Jesus, and with a retelling of the wise and witty Onondaga creation parable “How the Animals Got Their Voices.” Though he employs a number of hoary devices to achieve his effects, Trevanian can be an engaging storyteller, with a knack for getting inside his characters’ heads.