Relevant stories, in a straightforward style with elegant yet simple prose. five stars
Beck chooses several points of view. The title story is told from the letter of an academic wondering if he should use a recently discovered paper to re-open the Dreyfus and Zola events. Is it safe to challenge modern France and its military? Will his expert adviser tell him the subject is already beaten to death?
The Man Who Shot Stonewall Jackson is told from the words of a veteran of the civil war. Here Beck uses an apparently simple story of war’s horror to ask key social questions.
For a tour-de-force in social commentary and prejudice, told so straightforwardly you’re inside the characters, turn to Intrusion. For a nice surprise ending, turn to The Encounter.
In The Epidemic of ’53: “The buildings were surrounded by neat but scraggly grass patches, giving the entire area the appearance of a sterile, small town college, where the local progressive citizenry might send their barely functional offspring to incubate and not embarrass the family.”
If you’re scrolling for my infamous tiny carps, you can just keep reading. Nothing of note. Back to the good stuff.
In Misspent: “John Richardson, a tall, weathered, handsome man, lost to passing time and stares of hungry curiosity, sat on a small wooden bench as the snow hurled taunting tastes of cold tears in the small garden, part of a posh building that he had carved himself apart to possess.”
For a modern version of a parable, turn to Journey, which takes place in the deep past in China. Is there a moral to this story? Buy the book and turn to this page for a fast introduction to Beck’s scope.
Here is my boilerplate text on star counts. My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. Beck is up against some really big names, like Faulkner and Steinbeck. (The Sound and the Fury; Of Mice and Men.) In this company Beck stands pretty tall. Five stars seems right on to this curmudgeon. Extremely recommended.
Kindle Book Review Team member.