August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

A German Picturesque

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Jason Schwartz
genre
Short Stories, Fiction
We gave it a B

Most of these 21 experimental short stories revolve around finely descriptive passages of decor and dress, like those found in 19th-century novels. Each depicts antique mementos — such as gramophones, dumbwaiters, and hat pins — and the flickering windows they afford on past events and people. The title story refers to an old German goblet, from its various owners to the bloody history etched in its artwork. Elsewhere, family histories are evoked through a quilt, a tea service, and bone china, with characters appearing only on the periphery. Schwartz’s moody, miniaturist tableaux are admittedly precious, but they richly capture the power of historical objects. B

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