When it comes to African politics, race relations, and postmodern anxieties, Nadine Gordimer knows that profundity is not always to be found - it doesWhen it comes to African politics, race relations, and postmodern anxieties, Nadine Gordimer knows that profundity is not always to be found - it does not always exist. These issues are a mess, and Gordimer does not attempt to clean them up; her fiction is beholden to a meticulous sense of description that makes few judgments beyond a basic humanistic loyalty. Above all else, her honesty carries her fiction forth.
It's not an easy collection to read or understand. Some of the stories are purposefully arduous (such as "The Ultimate Safari") and some are so tenuously composed as to be difficult to follow (such as "Jump" and "My Father Leaves Home"). These I appreciated but did not particularly like. But the best of the remaining stories were, for me, incredibly powerful, and tended to linger in my thoughts. "Once Upon a Time," "Some Are Born to Sweet Delight," "Home," and "Safe Houses" are some truly phenomenal stories that, for the most part, serve to remind the reader (no doubt comfortably sitting on his or her couch with the $15 book in hand) that the safe distance between the rich and the poor (or the bourgeois and the proletariat - whatever philosophy) is mostly a fragile construct that begins and ends in the minds of the well-to-do. Gordimer knows that our humanity is a common one, though it has been divvied up for the sake of politics, money, and other inanities. She nobly calls us to reconsideration. ...more
This was a very pleasant collection of early short stories, and not just by "unpublished" standards. What's so nice about it is that Vonnegut was, atThis was a very pleasant collection of early short stories, and not just by "unpublished" standards. What's so nice about it is that Vonnegut was, at this point, just writing like mad. The stories here are not at all bogged down by the oft-espoused ideas of his later career; they are fresh and, in most cases, fairly mature. For those fans disheartened by Hocus Pocus and the like, this is a good place to return to. As for why these stories were unpublished, your guess is as good as Sidney Offit's, in the foreword: "It may well be that these stories didn't appear in print because for one reason or another they didn't satisfy Kurt." In other words, Offit has no idea why these stories didn't make it to print. For the most part, neither do I....more