Victoria Nelson’s Best Reviewed Book of the Week

MFAW-WA faculty member Victoria Nelson’s New York Review Books edition of Robert Aickman’s story collection, Compulsory Gameswith reviews in the New Yorker, Washington Post, and elsewhere, made the Lit Hub/Bookmarks “Best Reviewed Books of the Week” list.  Robert Aickman (1914–1981) wrote eight collections of self-described “strange stories,” as well as the novel The Late Breakfasters and the posthumously published novella The Model. An advocate for preserving and restoring England’s canal system, in 1946 he co-founded the Inland Waterways Association.

  (c) Candy Riddell

From the Lit Hub/Bookmarks site:  “The short stories of Robert Aickman … take place in an ordinary world (albeit that of the previous century) in which bizarre, supernatural events unfold with real originality. His storytelling is good, his writing is clean, he’s funny but understated, and the stories themselves are striking … Aickman’s stories have more in common with surrealism than horror or fantasy … The plot—like the dialogue—of a story can at first seem drawn out, abrupt, or incomplete. He constructs his sentences with obvious care, but includes details selectively rather than exhaustively. We might know more about a woman’s outfit on one page than we know about our protagonist’s entire appearance … The person we follow in an Aickman story is often unremarkable: usually a man, generally a civil servant of a solitary disposition, who’s not particularly useful or skillful, and seems to be of ambivalent sexuality. Female protagonists, on the other hand, are generally much more capable than their male counterparts … Regardless of the character at hand, Aickman’s descriptive choices are confident and effective. He is master of his own game.”

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