Mark Helprin's fiction is at once so effortlessly imaginative and deeply imagined as to regularly elicit from critics comparisons to Joyce, Kafka, Poe, Mann, and others. John Gardner said of Helprin, "He moves from character to character and from cul Mark Helprin's fiction is at once so effortlessly imaginative and deeply imagined as to regularly elicit from critics comparisons to Joyce, Kafka, Poe, Mann, and others. John Gardner said of Helprin, "He moves from character to character and from culture to culture as if he'd been born and raised everywhere," and Reynolds Price wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "Such ambitious reach is almost unheard of in our short fiction." Helprin is indisputably one of the great writers of our time.
And now, almost ten years since his last book, Helprin returns with The Pacific and Other Stories, a collection of sixteen stories that display the remarkable scope, incomparable wit, and deft prose that have come to be his signature. A British paratrooper jumps into occupied territory in order to reconnoiter enemy positions and direct artillery fire, but a roof breaks his fall; shattered physically and fully alone, he must decide the extent of his devotion to his mission. The 1958 New York Yankees gain an unexpected teammate in a puny, teenage Hasidic Jew whom God has called to rescue the "House of Ruth." An opera impresario who has made his career on and ruined the life of a laundress-turned-diva now considers whether he ought to pluck from obscurity a soprano singing on a side street in Venice. A novelist in the 1940s, completely forgotten within the vast bureaucracy at U.S. Steel, constructs for himself a lifesaving sinecure. A September 11 widow receives an astonishing gift from the contractor working on her new apartment. In 1972, a female reservist in the Israeli Army who has despaired of love finds it at the very last minute and in its finest expression, while floating in the sea off Haifa.
Helprin's stories exhibit the constantly changing variety of the ocean itself, the peaks and troughs of life depicted as they blend indistinguishably into one another. Lighthearted, glittering fables are met with starker tales that sound the depths of sacrifice and duty. And although many stories are of the present, the pre-World War II past and its promise of a simpler, purer way of life return with tidal regularity to haunt a modern-day world that has slighted tranquillity and reflection.
The Pacific and Other Stories is a resplendent, engulfing, powerful collection of lasting substance and emotional import. ...Continua Nascondi