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Fascination: Stories [Paperback]

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Springtime in Oxford is vulgar, anyway, but something about this particular spring in Oxford is having me on. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He does the Police in voices July 24 2005
By A. Hickman - Published on Amazon.com
There's always something to like in a book by William Boyd. He is never less than a witty raconteur with an unswerving instinct for the mot juste. As the present collection of short stories, "Fascination," attests, he is also a brilliant ventriloquist, capable of embodying, alternately, an adolescent bicyclist, a 19-year-old asthmatic whose parents are both bodybuilders, a female performance artist, a writer named Edward with delusions of his own grandeur (in the collections's best two stories), and a host of dysfunctional middle-aged men. These are narrators who are driven largely by "fascination" for unattainable love objects, like the American publisher in 1940s Cape Cod who meets "The Woman on the Beach with a Dog" and is capable of forgetting his own marriage even when hers intrudes. The fascination here is in the unexpected twists and turns these stories take, including a side trip into Chekhovian territory in "The Pigeon." I enjoyed reading these stories; each is a testament to Boyd's mastery of the form; but I wasn't particularly engaged by any of them. The plotting, to put it bluntly, is perfunctory. I barely got interested in a character or situation, when the story concluded and I was shuffled on to the next character and situation. I got the impression that these might be sketches for books that Boyd never got around to writing--compressed novels, as it were. That being said, this is a much more satisfying collection than the earlier "The Destiny of Nathalie X," which, with the exception of the mordantly funny title story (an insider's take on Hollywood), is even sketchier than "Fascination." Boyd, as his fans know from "On the Yankee Station" (his first collection of stories), "A Good Man in Africa," and a raft of other books, is capable of so much more. I'm certain Boyd has another comic masterpiece like "Stars and Bars" up his sleeve. In the meantime, enjoy this collection for the jeu d'sprit it is.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A virtuoso performance Nov. 26 2007
By Philip Spires - Published on Amazon.com
Fascination by William Boyd is a set of sixteen short stories. This may not sound either surprising or original until one considers their form. The author uses at least nine different and clearly identifiable forms in which to present this work. One takes the form of a video. There are childhood memories, a diary, a journal, an A-to-Z listing. One story is a set of dialogues over lunch. Another is a set of monologues. And William Boyd's use of these different forms is not just a writer's trick to impress a critic. In each case to form complements the story, adds interpretation to the events and helps our understanding of the characters. Fascination is thus no less than a fascinating read, a tour de force in miniature by a great writer.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Studies in Humanity Jan. 2 2009
By Pesso - Published on Amazon.com
I generally don't like short stores - they are over before they begin. But I loved the character presentations in these. I was quickly involved in most of them right away. Not having read this author before, I started to think that Boyd must be very clever to create so many different stories under one roof. A wealth of riches so-to-speak. Can't wait to read his novels.
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Feb. 6 2014
By John Offenbach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Best thing about the stories is the constant very strong character building within a few words.
Some stories were a little weak at the end, more like a writing exercies than a structured short story, but the only negative was that typically you're left looking for more.
5.0 out of 5 stars "His vast insouciance." May 13 2013
By R. Russell Bittner - Published on Amazon.com
Sometimes it's merely the uncanny juxtaposition of two simple words that lets us know we're reading a great writer. "(V)ast insouciance" -- from the short story "The Pigeon" -- is such an example.

William Boyd is not just a wordsmith; he's a magician who pulls rabbit-words out of hats, throws them together, then lets us marvel at the effect. Problem is, we come away from the page thinking -- we, the rest of us, we other purveyors of English prose -- what's the point? Why even bother? With writers like William Boyd to contend with, why not just throw in the towel and remain content to be readers?

If Boyd has any weakness as a short story writer, it's in relying too much upon his readers to supply those bits he has clearly decided -- perhaps in the interest of grace or economy -- to omit. Consequently, his stories, as eloquent as they are imaginative, are not easy to read. Full and unforgiving concentration is a requirement. As well, a leap of faith in Boyd-logic -- an equal necessity if we, his readers, are to grasp and hold that thin reed of a story we, ourselves, could not even begin to imagine, much less tell.

Do I recommend FASCINATION? Only to the intrepid. But to the intrepid, without reservation. Let your imagination run wild with only eyes and ears to chaperone and guide. And then, enjoy the party. William Boyd, like few others, knows how to throw one -- at least, on the page.

Brooklyn, NY

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