Wednesday, 3 February 2010


I'm enjoying our recently released edition of Michael Arlen's These Charming People. Arlen's novel The Green Hat is our best-selling title, and he is obviously a writer whose literary resurrection has met with the approval of many readers.

The stories are beautifully written, describing powerful emotions and dramatic situations with an acute power of observation and expression, and often using repetition to add energy and impact to the narration. Here's an example of the style from When the Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (the inspiration for the song):
....she lay still on the sofa by the windows, her head deep in the hollow of a crimson cushion, her eyes thoughtfully on the ceiling, which was high enough to refuse itself to exact scrutiny in the affected light of four candles.

Arlen also excels at a bitter-sweet depiction of the relationship between the sexes, albeit from the perspective of his own times; from Introducing a Lady of no Importance and a Gentleman of even less:
....for women are sometimes like sea-birds, they sometimes worship stone images, men who are carved of the rocky stuff of life...

Short stories are not the most fashionable form of fiction, but these exemplify the potential of this form to produce small gems of great literary worth and emotional significance.


No comments: