PIECES FOR SMALL ORCHESTRA AND OTHER FICTIONS by norman lock

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a suite of four interacting works that do meta-fictionality without that embarrassing pedantic odor. and in the title work lock so refines a style that his figurines gesture on an exquisite stage with a perfect modulation of wit and heartbreak. these miniatures gradually develop their emotional and formal ambitions so, as with the funambulist named within, we hold our breath — unbelieving the instant-by-instant and sentence-by-sentence marvels of lock’s high-wire act.
The Prime Minister is in the vestibule, brushing his silk hat with his sleeve. He comes each night after the cares of state have been put away. He lays them in a drawer among maps and pairs of immaculate white gloves. To be here with us requires finesse; for the nation believes he is lucubrating, not waltzing — certainly not doing the two-step or tango with a rustling girl in his arms! A girl in a pale-yellow dress whose frou frou causes desire to rise up in his thinnest ducts. He left the ministry by the back stairs, eluded the stiffly standing military guard, tiptoed past the alleys where, since nightfall, men and women have come in search of contraband. Each night he slides a stack of crimson inflationary currency over the sill of the wire wicket, behind which a woman sits who hands him, in return, a loop of blue tickets. Always it is the same girl with whom he dances — the one in the yellow dress, which makes a crepuscular music. She whose hair is the color of certain sunsets. It is for this the Prime Minister lives — not for his wife or his countrymen, who pity him over their beer and sausages for his ceaseless devotion. I lift my glass to him as he passes near my table, but his mind is elsewhere — on a diagram of the samba he is now dancing, studied intently an hour ago (a map of movement through a space hostile to gracelessness). I know what is in his mind, for inside the hotel I have the gift of omniscience. Do not ask who gave me it. I don’t know, unless it is the bottle of clearest gin, the mermaid on the swizzle stick, or the strength of my own desire (52-3).

pick it up from the publisher or from SPD.

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more on m. lock here.

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