The year is 1781 and a swarm of ordinary citizens have been admitted, free of charge, to see for themselves the imperial art collection in the Upper Belvedere Palace of Vienna. Never before in Europe has a great collection been opened up in this democratic way. The entree comes by order of the Habsburg emperor, Joseph II (1741–1790).
All fiction, it’s been said, boils down to two plots: Either a stranger comes to town or someone goes on a trip. Gatsby lands on Long Island, drawn like a luna moth to Daisy’s green light. Huck and Jim raft away in an idyll of racial amity that today seems, in a term dear to Mark Twain, a stretcher.Read more
Historically, we’ve had witchcraft, priestcraft, warcraft, and occasionally a spot of statecraft. Today, we have craft beers in corner bars and craft talks at conclaves of writers around the country. Craft is mellowing with age.Read more
You get the sense, reading this off-kilter collection of stories, that somewhere in the background, jazz is playing. Bop, probably. The plotlines and patter of the characters tootle off every which way, high and low, with now and then a nod to the theme. Sometimes (as in the sax work of Coleman Hawkins, cited in one story) the theme peters out. Such bold flightiness is both the weakness of Colin Fleming’s writing and its strength.Read more
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