James Lasdun

August 21, 2012

Besieged/The Siege (Selected Stories)

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:04 pm

Published in 1999 to coincide with the release of Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Besieged (based on Lasdun’s story The Siege ), this selection draws on Lasdun’s first two collections of short stories, The Silver Age (published in the US as Delirium Eclipse ) (1985) and Three Evenings (1992).

The Silver Age/Delirium Eclipse:

“The most auspicious first collection of stories to come out of England since Ian McEwan’s First Love, Last Rites.” Washington Post

“The best of these stories are brilliant enough to point a shadow - long as shadows are at sunrise - from this first book toward a valuable literary career…[They] reveal a combination of talents - narrative, rhetorical, inventive, meditative - so rare that one forgives all else.” Jonathan Penner, New York Times Book Review

“His stories…stretch your nerves with unsaid things” The Spectator

“Mr. Lasdun surprises us again and again, by painting in the details of his characters’ lives with such authority and imagination that we become thoroughly absorbed in their dramas… Uncommonly self-assured, he seems fond of mixing up surreal forays into the unconscious with old-fashioned displays of narrative pyrotechnics.” Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

Three Evenings

“Unlike many young writers, Lasdun already has the technical skills and confidence to make not only pristine fiction, but art that burrows into troubling new territory even as it glides by like a dream” Village Voice

“Mr Lasdun’s formal, cultivated, sensitive intelligence unmasks, with great care, the deceits of his own class…turning his work into a kind of elegant pathology report on the modern soul. Simultaneously lyrical and clinical, these unnerving narratives mourn and deconstruct, celebrate and demystify, embrace and dissect.” New York Times Book Review

“Whether as satirical fabulist, or as purveyor of his own brand of suburban Gothic, James Lasdun is now an assured master of his form” Jonathan Keates, The Independent

“There is a compelling precariousness to these stories: is something scary going to happen? Will there be a worm in the bud? Is the warm, opulent use of language about to get out of hand? The answer to the third question is No. One of the admirable things about Lasdun’s prose is the balance he achieves between plain and fulsome, an enlivening sort of blend of Shaker-with-Rococo…versatlie as well as subtle and dazzling” Ruth Pavey, The Observer

Besieged/The Siege (Selected Stories)

“It is easy to forget how very ordinary most contemporary prose-writers are, even - or perhaps, especially - those who are fanned as “stylists”… Lasdun’s prose, by contrast, is neither too fancy nor too regular. It is flexible, rich, metaphorical, and lovely. In “Snow”, for example, the narrator describes a lawn of fresh snow, bisected by a line of footprints: “The snow on the garden was pristine, except for a dotted line that ran across the centre from our house to the one opposite, like the perforations between two stamps seen from their white, shiny backs.” This seems to me a marvellous way to evoke a quality of virginal unusedness, the stamp before it has been licked like the snow before it has melted; it is also a plausible image to come from a small boy, who is the narrator of this story. For Lasdun is not self-indulgent. His prose is the texture of its content: that is to say, it does not seek to illuminate its perfection but to lighten a path for its own developing cognition. It exists to strew the path of each story Lasdun has to tell.  James Wood, The Guardian

Powered by WordPress