Vignettes of Ystov

William Goldsmith, Author
William Goldsmith. Random House UK/Jonathan Cape, $24.95 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-0-224-09036-0
Reviewed on: 10/22/2012
Release date: 04/01/2011
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In this odd, delightful book, Goldsmith offers a series of two-page sketches of life in the fictional city of Ystov. Random at first, the stories slowly tie together, as various quirky characters cross paths. Dark undertones haunt this world, including death striking at random and government oppression from KGB-type agents. But there are also moments of humor and whimsy. Marÿke Blitzen, an office clerk, is a “renowned flirt,” and lovers dream of being reunited and spelling their names with the letters from alphabet soup. The volume is beautifully produced, from the striking end papers to the handwritten table of contents to the sketches of the characters at the front of the volume. Goldsmith’s lovely watercolor illustrations, awash in muted pastels, are a compelling cross between Soviet Realism and a Madeline book. While brief, this book begs to be re-read again and again, in the search for new details and connections that are sure to be noticed with each pass. (Nov.)
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