Friday, February 06, 2009

Starred review for We Never Talk About My Brother

A starred Booklist review beautifully sums up what Peter Beagle's newest short story collection is all about:

STAR We Never Talk About My Brother - Peter S. Beagle
The phrase literary fantasy usually voices disdain, as if bona fide fantasy writers avoid all niceties of style and language. Such scornful usage runs aground on the work of Beagle, who knows better than any other contemporary fantasist how to tell a tale in the appropriate tone. So the memory-of-childhood piece, "Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel" is as wistful as the adult calling it up from the past yet as matter-of-fact as the unsophisticated 10 year old who witnessed its events. The title story, about how the narrator reins in his TV news star younger brother with the power both men possess but only the younger has used, unspools like the oral-history testimony of a yokel who's not so dumb after all. The faux Japanese "The Tale of Junko and Sayuri") and the faux European "King Pelles the Sure" each include the right amount of detail to seem to be recovered gems from the folklore of their regions. "Spook," which reels around an epic duel fought with bad verse, sounds wonderfully like Kerouac trying to be Steinbeck. If such be literary fantasy - and it is - write on, Mr. Beagle, write on!
-Ray Olson


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