Title: The Cabal and Other Stories
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2000
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: As New
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: First Edition.
Signed by Author 0316314919 This hardcover book is square and tight. The boards and spine have no wear with pristine gilt. The pages and endpages are clean, with no markings or folds. The dustjacket is As New. Original Price is intact. Not ex-lib. No remainder mark. Signed by the Author on the title page without inscription. Bookseller Inventory # 003028
Synopsis: New and familiar characters mix, match, and clash in Gilchrist's most inventive collection of stories since "Victory Over Japan."
Review: Ellen Gilchrist, who bottomed out with the ghastly 1997 novel Sarah Conley, returns to form with a collection celebrating the South, extended families, and romantic love. Die-hard fans who've hunkered down with tattered copies of the author's early-'80s treasures such as Victory over Japan and In the Land of Dreamy Dreams can come up and breath the fresh air and easy humor of The Cabal. In the opening novella, a group of influential Jackson, Mississippi, men and women all go to the same psychiatrist. "This is the story," Gilchrist begins, "of a group of people who had a bizarre and unexpected thing happen to them. Their psychiatrist went crazy and started injecting himself with drugs." It's worse than drugs, though: Jim Jaspers has become infected with the truth, and has begun spouting the secrets of his wealthy power-broker clients. This would be bad enough, but the special prosecutor has been haunting the town, looking for dirt on Clinton. Needless to say, as Gilchrist lays bare the anxieties of the town elders, she creates a hothouse of gossip that's as dishy as E.F. Benson's Lucia novels. In the resulting paranoia and ass-covering, Gilchrist has found a new métier: the comedy of middle age. She has always had an undercurrent of waspishness; here she brandishes it and it makes a fine foil to her sweet and lazy love of love.
One of Gilchrist's finer comic creations has been Traceleen, maid to the imperious alcoholic-turned-yoga-enthusiast Miss Crystal. This incomparable duo returns here in "The Big Cleanup," which accompanies the novella along with a few tales of California exile, lost love, and chatty funerals. Gilchrist maintains her wholly unique, almost flat-footed voice, one full of wonder and utterly lacking in concern about sounding brainy. A couple of cousins are "a marvelous-looking pair of mourners, travelers, young women of the contemporary world." And, sometimes, she gets her characterizations dead-on in just a single throwaway sentence: "Lauren Gail was a true Yankee, raised in New England and educated in experimental schools." Gilchrist is once again writing as if she enjoys it, and it's an irresistible spectacle. --Claire Dederer
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