The Rendezvous and Other Stories

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9780393313802: The Rendezvous and Other Stories
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A collection of startlingly vivid short stories from Patrick O'Brian, author of the highly acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series.

Patrick O'Brian has emerged, in the opinion of many, as one of the greatest novelists now writing in English. His fame rests mainly on the achievement of the epic Aubrey/Maturin novels, but few readers know that O'Brian first made his reputation as a writer of short fiction. Collected here for the first time are twenty-seven stories that O'Brian wishes to preserve: stories of uncommon lyricism and beauty that will confirm his rightful place in the front rank of short-story writers as well as of novelists.

Although the tone of this collection ranges effortlessly from the humorous to the dramatic, the most characteristic and memorable stories often have to do with a glimpse of savage, destructive forces through the fragile shell of human civilization. The threatened chaos may be psychological, as in "On the Wolfsberg," or it may be lurking in the natural world, as in "A Passage of the Frontier," or, as in the dark masterpiece "The Chian Wine," it is suddenly discovered in the ancient, irrational impulses of human nature.

The setting may be the marshes of western Ireland, the Pyrenees, or the claustrophobic confines of a clockmender's house, but each story is a showcase for Patrick O'Brian's fresh and meticulous prose; each story reaffirms his sympathetic understanding of human passion and suffering. This collection proves that O'Brian is not simply the master of a genre, but an author who will long be honored as one of our most eminent literary figures.

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About the Author:

Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels has been described as "a masterpiece" (David Mamet, New York Times), "addictively readable" (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune), and "the best historical novels ever written" (Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review), which "should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century" (George Will).Set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, O'Brian's twenty-volume series centers on the enduring friendship between naval officer Jack Aubrey and physician (and spy) Stephen Maturin. The Far Side of the World, the tenth book in the series, was adapted into a 2003 film directed by Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. The film was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture. The books are now available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book format.In addition to the Aubrey/Maturin novels, Patrick O'Brian wrote several books including the novels Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore, as well as biographies of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He translated many works from French into English, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir, the first volume of Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle, and famed fugitive Henri Cherrière's memoir Papillon. O'Brian died in January 2000.

From Kirkus Reviews:

His reputation as a novelist secure, O'Brian (The Wine-Dark Sea, 1993, etc.) here seeks to cement his reputation as a short- story writer. The author has established a deservedly devoted following in this country for his Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin 18th-century naval series, but this group of 27 stories, originally published between 1950 and 1974, is not, taken as a whole, as strong. He is much interested in obscure journeys across frontiers and unhappy marriages, and many of the tales are more vignettes than classic short stories. Early entries feature solitary men who are invariably disoriented and buffeted by natural forces (or by forces implicitly beyond natural ones) while engaged in fishing, fox hunting, pigeon shoots, and other outdoor pursuits. In ``The Happy Despatch,'' for example, Woolen, a poverty-stricken Englishman stuck in a horrid marriage and living as an outcast in an Irish village, stumbles across a stash of golden coins while fishing high in the hills. What seems a sudden shift in his fortunes turns into something very like a horror story in the abrupt, enigmatic ending. In ``The Tunnel at the Frontier,'' a befuddled traveler appears to be passing from life to death. ``Lying in the Sun'' offers these thoughts from a man on the beach with his insipid wife: ``If only she would go away, he would be quite fond of her; he would indeed, and he would do all he possibly could to be agreeable by post.'' Later stories are less claustrophobic and more striking, especially the dark and bitter ``The Chian Wine,'' in which the planned ceremonial drinking of an ancient cask of spirits is precluded by timeless violence, and the volume's unexpectedly amusing final entry, ``On the Wolfsberg,'' wherein yet another solitary wanderer (female this time) learns a startling truth. Eloquent and elegant as expected, these often intriguing tales are never quite as enthralling as one might hope. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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