The Temptation of Jack Orkney and Other Stories

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Temptation of Jack Orkney and Other Stories by Doris Lessing.

There is a huge variety among the thirteen stories in this 1972 collection. Many have to do with aging, maturation, and/or death, and there is often a high degree of psychological acuity in the telling. Two stories touch on the theater and its culture, one is a sfnal parable in which space aliens try to warn San Franciscans about an impending cataclysm, another is a set of espionage vignettes, and a couple are centered on public parks. Their central characters are of diverse ages, classes, races, and genders. Really, about the only thing that ties all of these stories together is a consistently high quality of prose, and a leisured sort of storytelling pace. Many, perhaps most, end without any sense of finality or significant closure. I don’t often read “literary” short stories of this kind, but I’m glad to have read these. [via]