Picks and Pans Review: Narcissa & Other Fables

updated 05/02/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/02/1983 01:00AM

by Louis Auchincloss

The heroine of Narcissa, the first in this group of short stories by the prolific lawyer-writer, is a superrich Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney type who paints post office murals for fun. She is also an art patroness, and when she poses nude for a painter, she leaves herself open to blackmail. The Seagull is about a young minister who, in trying to practice Christianity in an affluent Long Island town, loses both his wife and faith. A teacher in The Ghost of Hamlet's Ghost finds his career flourishing again after he makes a kind of pact with a long-dead interpreter of Shakespeare. The book ends with a series of sketches, some less than a page long. A few convey a way of life in just a few sentences, but the people, places and situations all seem terribly familiar. They are like some expensive biscuits packaged in an old-fashioned tin box, decorated in gold and filigree. (Houghton Mifflin, $13.95)

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