<JohnGabree.com (Some) Writing>
Review by John Gabree
If nothing were known of Alvah Bessie's left-wing political beliefs or of his conviction and incarceration as one of the Hollywood Ten, he would almost certainly be beloved as one of our most graceful storytellers. Even as it is, his novels "Dwell in the Wilderness" and "The Symbol" and his account of the Spanish Civil War, "Men in Battle," are admired by other writers. This new collection of his stories will add to his reputation.
volume brings together 17 pieces published in magazines in the 1930s
and a previously unpublished cycle of stories written in the 1950s.
In the latter, his characters are isolated, emotionally, spiritually,
usually even physically. They struggle to understand themselves, to
communicate with others, to comprehend a universe that threatens to
overwhelm them. The seven unpublished stories form a kind of novella,
a light-hearted coming-of-age tale about a youthful herpetologist
with hot pants. Though there are a few duds among them, most of these
stories are deeply felt, precisely observed and skillfully rendered.