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Travellers in Magic Paperback – March 1, 1997
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
The 15 deceptively plain short stories in this collection hum with the harmonics of Lisa Goldstein's novels. In "Tourists," Goldstein visits Amaz, where packs of tarotlike cards circulate and an American tourist is enmeshed in their predictions. A reporter interviewing a revolutionary leader learns that "Death is Different" in Amaz, and in "A Game of Cards," the oracular cards appear in America. Goldstein is fascinated by refugees, travelers, and explorers confronting alien cultures or surviving in exile. Sometimes her characters are subsumed, assimilated; sometimes they maintain an indigestible integrity in their foreign environment. It is always better to adapt to new circumstances, while honoring the past, in Goldstein's worlds, than to deny them. Rigidity is sterile death.
From Publishers Weekly
This volume gathers all of Goldstein's short fiction to date, 14 stories published between 1984 and 1994 plus one ("Split Light") making its debut here. Ranging from science fiction ("Midnight News") to myths and fairy tales seen through a modern lens ("Ever After," "Rites of Spring") to historical fantasies ("Infinite Riches," "Split Light"), these tales are otherwise surprisingly unified: they're all told in Goldstein's plain, precise prose and simple but poetic imagery, and none venture off Earth, or even far from the everyday world. Goldstein (Summer King, Winter Fool) is more interested in parent-child relationships and her characters' struggles against self-imposed limitations than in genre spectacle. In "Cassandra's Photographs," a man gets a peek at his future that first thrills, then dismays and finally frees him. In "The Woman in the Painting," a shape-shifting alien becomes an artist's ideal model, mirroring how women often adapt themselves to other's expectations, losing themselves in the process. Goldstein is at her best in the stories that touch on themes of Jewish experience, such as the Holocaust: the touching ghost story "Alfred," the vivid and effective "A Traveller at Passover" and, perhaps best of all, "Breadcrumbs and Stones," which combines fairy tales and Holocaust memories in a tale of tragedy and hope.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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She enchants instead, but using surprisingly simple language, depicting surprisingly normal-seeming events, and evoking wonder on every page despite. I have heard her work compared to oriental brushwork - the description fits.
This collection of short stories is one of the best single author collections I have read. She explores a huge variety of subjects, from the historical, with Sir Walter Raleigh, to the disturbing story of an old woman, neglected for years, chosen by aliens to decide if the human race should be exterminated, to the story of a man, given photos that show his future, in a desperate search for the woman who appears ion one picture.
She skirts her personal rule of never writing series' a bit closely, by returning to the same fictional country of Amaz in two stories (also featured in her novel Tourists), but those stories are decidedly stand-alones, each exploring the theme of being a stranger in a foreign country, but viewing that theme from a different angle each time.
A reader looking for sweeping action will likely be disappointed; even Walter Raleigh's journey across the sea to seek El Dorado is not an action-adventure, but rather a smart moral dilemma. Anyone seeking intelligence, creativity, truly human characters, and sudden moments of beauty, will be delighted.