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This review is taken from PN Review 201, Volume 38 Number 1, September - October 2011.

FAILING BETTER GABRIEL JOSIPOVICI, 'Heart's Wings' & Other Stories (Carcanet) £14.95

Most contemporary British fiction grants the reader the position of a spectator, complete with the voyeuristic pleasure of spying on the lives of their neighbours and the neighbours' neighbours. Gabriel Josipovici's work does not even attempt to satisfy such inquisitiveness. 'Heart's Wings' & Other Stories, a collection that gathers twenty-five narratives written over the last forty years, takes the reader on a journey full of intellectual surprises. With no closure, the stories repeatedly eschew resolution and the reader has to learn to enjoy the travelling - Cavafy-fashion - rather than wait for Ithaca.

Meet Mobius the Stripper, the eponymous hero of a story first published in 1972, and one of the most memorable characters in literature: a fat, tattooed lump of a body, foreign to boot and working in a club where he peels off his clothes in search of the truth. 'Is not seshual. Is metaphysical', he says, a comment that might well provide an answer to those who question the lack of sex or romantic love in Josipovici's writing. Encouraged to take a holiday, Mobius asks his exasperated employer - pertinently, you have to agree - 'A holiday from what?' And when, without waiting for the answer, he adds, 'From life?', our laughter is not directed at him but at ourselves.

The opening story, 'Second Person Looking Out', is told by first, third and second person narrators (in that order), visiting a house whose host 'may move a window fractionally along the wall ...


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