Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Art of Cartography: Stories by J.S. Marcus

First sentence:

"I read, in several newspapers, about a man from Los Angeles who wanted to go to Oakland."


"The young men and women who inhabit these mordantly alive stories move around -- as do the stories themselves -- from city to city, country to country.The characters are in and out of graduate schools, apartments, love affairs, marriages. They go from New York to London to Los Angeles, compulsively studying the facts of their own lives and the facts they can guess at in the lives of those around them, as a way, perhaps, out of their solitude, as if they could map themselves into the world. They long for perspective, permanence -- truth -- although what they find is often something quite different.

A young American working in a London bank is propelled by a random happening -- he gets off his train one day because an unexploded bomb from World War II has been discovered on the tracks -- into a series of chance meetings and invitations that illumine the nature of his loneliness.

A New Yorker, the author of 'unpublished travel books and eight-millimeter documentaries,' while visiting a South Pacific island famous for its archaeological dig, accidentally brings together, and then less accidentally puts at odds, the people at his hotel.

A woman named Sheila, who appears -- at various periods of her life, and in and out of a relationship with a music critic -- in several of the stories, is last seen in southern California, holed up in a mansion, smoking  grass with the maid, and expecting to end up where she began: back with the critic, as if the best she can do is 'shift weight.'

In all twelve stories, we see people in motion, in flux -- again and again deflected by the succession of chance encounters that has become their way of life.

A remarkable collection of stories, a memorable debut." -- from the inside flap.

My thoughts:

This is an interesting collection of short stories. I liked the narrator meeting different people and reflecting on who they are.

Date read: 10/20/2014
Book #: 38
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre; Fiction

ISBN-10: 0394559460
ISBN-13: 9780394559469
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Year: 1991
# of pages: 129
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

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