Picks and Pans Review: Me Again
Stevie Smith was a British poet and writer who lived with her aunt in the London suburb of Palmer's Green and died in 1971 at age 69. (A movie based on her life, Stevie, starring Glenda Jackson, was produced in 1978.) Her poems, stories and novels had only quiet popular success. But this fine collection demonstrates her sublety, mystery and penchant for philosophical dilemmas as well as her ear for the sardonic. Her short stories have a disarming innocence and eeriness: "At this moment there was a black shadow across the open window and a large, dark, fat boy fell into the room." Her essays and reviews, the best part of this collection, point to an intelligence never without sympathy. In an essay entitled Simply Living, she writes, "This is the simplest of all thoughts, that Death must come when we call, although he is a god. It is a good thing at these moments to have a 92-year-old creature sitting upstairs in her dignity and lofty intelligence, to be needed and know that she is needed." The letters also reveal Smith's warmth and what appears to be either ceaseless energy or an addiction to run-on sentences. (Farrar Straus Giroux, $15.95)
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