A Vaudeville of Devils
By Robert Girardi
(Delta, Paperback, 9780385333986, 432pp.)
Publication Date: May 11, 1999
List Price: $19.00*
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From the acclaimed author of Madeleine's Ghost and Vaporetto 13 comes a mesmerizing collection of seven novellas and stories that explore, through the lives of a variety of extraordinary and ordinary characters, our many moral quandaries.
Meet Hans Otto Graebner as he lingers in the beach resort of Ostend, on the North Sea. Soon this haggard SS officer will be dispatched to perform the menial but necessary task of locating and assassinating a degenerate Belgian painter.
Join "The Dinner Party," where a man stands adrift in a distinctly Borgesian universe, somewhere at the end of time. It could be the Apocalypse or some ghoulish carnival. He's attending a feast at an anonymous mansion while the fall of Babylon is acted out around him, and he struggles to hold on to the faint remnants of his conscience while the world goes up in flames.
Turn to a search for "The Primordial Face," in which two expatriates, one of them mute, go diving for a mythological treasure at the bottom of the sea and wind up competing for the love of the obsessive expedition leader's young daughter.
And spend "Sunday Evenings at Contessa Pasquali's," where a man and a woman torture each other with indifference and affection and find that love can be born of terrible schemes.
With this volume, Robert Girardi illustrates a world that is both beautifully alluring and brilliantly sinister, where souls are lost and won on the simple weight of everyday decisions. Rich with history and irony, vastly entertaining and told in the timeless style of tales, fables, and myths, these meditations on morality remind us of the eternal human condition.
Robert Girardi is the author of three previous novels: Madeleine's Ghost, The Pirate's Daughter, and Vaporetto 13. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Robert Girardi is the only writer I know of who is working successfully in the neglected tradition of Guy de Maupassant, Isak Dinesen, and Edgar Allan Poe--with as protean an imagination and as dexterous a pen as any of theirs. You can read these seven moral tales for pure entertainment, then wait to see what else may linger."
--Madison Smartt Bell