Verdict: FAREWELL TO FOLLIES is a book for lovers of literature—nuanced stories built one exquisite sentence after another—sensual, carefully observed, and unabashedly committed to not letting the reader relax into character and plot.
Xingu Fawcett’s short stories takes us across a sensitively limned, visceral world of Eros and menace, helicopter pilots and dancers, love and political instability—from Provence to Honduras, Kabul to Las Vegas.
Many of Fawcett’s pieces share kinship with a literary style he describes in “Bal Masqué,” stories lacking “the conventional elements of the traditional modes of literary realism, such as dramatic plotting, psychological analysis, and adhesion to the unities of time and place, which creates an illusion of order, in contrast to modern life’s discontinuities and randomness.” This is a challenging, honorable choice for a writer.
Fawcett’s not-always-linear vividness works especially well in “The Last Biryani Supper.” Here, his elliptical storytelling heightens the hallucinatory energy hovering around the ghostly plot. Similarly, “Beso, Tango, y Amor,” which delicately explores the intermingling of human vulnerability and the deliberate formality of the tango, nicely mimics Fawcett’s work as a whole. Several dystopic political pieces are also very strong. In “The Hamburger War,” and “Coup de Foudre,” Fawcett displays skill with Juvenalian satire—ironic criticism of a current situation—that resonates well with our times.
As with many short story collections, a few pieces might have been better reworked or excluded. In “Terminate with Extreme Prejudice”, Fawcett has recreated the filmic Apocalypse Now version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. He’s too careful a writer to not be intentional, but the faithfulness of his recreation overwhelms any new point being made. “La Fiesta de San Fermin” is gorgeously described, but reads more like a travelogue. Fawcett himself refers to the fragmentary nature of some of this work, but the more fragmentary pieces may be doing himself and his readers a disservice—watering down the collection. There is also an intermittent issue with an expanded space after the letter ‘F’ in the version received by IndieReader.
Xingu Fawcett’s FAREWELL TO FOLLIES is beautifully written, mysterious, literate, sexy collection of short stories. He belongs in the long conversation between writers like Coelho, Poe, and Hemingway, who understand language to encapsulate story, the nature of storytelling, and the vividness of life in the world. It is only a tendency to indulge, without editing out some of the weaker work, that inhibits this fine collection.
FAREWELL TO FOLLIES is a book for lovers of literature—nuanced stories built one exquisite sentence after another—sensual, carefully observed, and unabashedly committed to not letting the reader relax into character and plot.
~Ellen Graham for IndieReader