After reading' Night Moves and ' Cross Channel in close succession—alternation, really—I'd look for more short Barnes, as efficient doses of what I like Barnes for; but not for more short Powers. I have been wondering whether the problem is that Powers' style doesn't excerpt well, or whether it's that Powers tries to compress his stories instead of excerpting, and they really don't work for that. (His own afterword suggests that he thinks much the same.) One gets three brisk movements: something is creepy; it leaps dangerously to the foreground; the survivors face the rest of their lives with relief and diminished ambition. It's not a bad plot, but I like it better with the room for misdirection, foreshadowing, and research that his novels give him.
Cross Channel's stories sometimes resolve into diminished expectation, and they have enough WWI in them to obtain a little of the creepy, but they have a much wider range in pace and characterization. He doesn't compress as much plot into one story, although the whole make an arc. And, of course, Barnes is all lit'ry, which tends to excerpt well.
I especially liked "Hermitage", which improves two familiar genres by joining them: its main characters move to France to avoid the stuffy social conventions of England, but they don't go wild in Paris, they weave themselves into a rural southern village. I suppose it's three genres, if you count the depiction of a happy lasting marriage as a genre. The parallel that leaps to mind is Simon & Garfunkel's "Bookends", but there must be enough novels to make it a genre.
ISBN: 1892284901 (Night Moves)
ISBN: 0679446915 (Cross Channel)So wrote clew in Book comparisons. , Fiction (20th c.). , SF&F. | TrackBack