Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Blessings and Curses of the Short Story Collection

The blessings and curses of the short story collection is that one gets to view the writer’s universe in a relatively close frame.  We get to see the concerns of the writer, and how he or she develops them across plot, character, setting and pace.

This is certainly the case with Doris Lessing’s collection of stories, The Habit of Loving.  The settings take place in post War London, or the veld of a South African British colony, a resort in Germany between the wars, and in the final, longer story, post War Germany.

The stories are impressive and of uniformly high quality.  There is not the feeling in this book that one or two stories are holding up the rest.  By the same token, no single story really stands out in this collection.  They are evenly good, and as such, not particularly noteworthy.

But even without the punch, this collection is certainly worth reading.  If one is new to Lessing, you can get a flavor for her style and range.  For one who as read some  Lessing, especially The Golden Notebook, you can see her different voices on display in another context.

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