Between My Father and the King: New and Uncollected Stories

Janet Frame, Author
Janet Frame. Counterpoint, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61902-169-3
Reviewed on: 02/25/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
Paperback - 252 pages - 978-1-61902-320-8
Ebook - 257 pages - 978-1-61902-216-4
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Acclaimed New Zealander Frame (1924–2004) left behind a legacy of exceptional writing, both fiction and nonfiction, and this new collection of 28 short stories that span her career (many of which have never been published) showcases her extraordinary gifts as an imaginative storyteller with a singular viewpoint. Frame grasps an image and the emotion behind it in a few spare words. In “The Plum Tree and the Hammock,” she inhabits the mind of a young girl whose heart belongs to a boy who “cycled by in a flash of handsome pallor on his black and silver bicycle.” And in “The Birds of the Air,” she describes the anticipation of a grandmother’s visit: “an excitement like Christmas enhanced our lives.” Even the weather, in “I Got a Shoes,” is transformed by Frame’s lovely vision: “It rained big drops, pelting down hard like a punishment.” The chilling observations of “A Night at the Opera,” where a building housing “disturbed” patients is viewed as “a dirty brick imbecile waiting for food”; and “Gorse is not People,” whose heartbreaking Naida—a woman institutionalized for being a dwarf—believes that by turning 21 she can leave the mental hospital where she’s been housed for 11 years, were clearly inspired by the author’s own time in a mental institution. These stories—with themes of despair, disappointment, and wonder, underscored by Frame’s melancholy and vivid turns of phrase—are beautifully rendered. (May)
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