By Kate Wilson
December 16, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

The Collected Stories of Louis Auchinloss

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Louis Auchincloss’ serene, textured, and stunning short fiction spans 55 years, and it will knock you on your fanny. He diagrams the way the tiniest dents in the soul can collapse it: One character is so addicted to keeping a diary that his life becomes as grotesquely misshapen as a junkie’s. For all its understatement, Auchincloss’ prose has such strength that one word can do the work of 10. In ”Greg’s Peg,” a professor mentions that the doughy slow Gregory is ”wearing, alas, a bow tie”; that single ”alas” forever nails Gregory as a pitiful embarrassment and the professor as a petty snob. And anyone who can read the end of ”Maud” without a whimper probably should be carefully walled away from people who have hearts. If you delight in exquisite artistry but have all the Faberge eggs you need, The Collected Stories of Louis Auchinloss is the start of another obsession. A

The Collected Stories of Louis Auchinloss

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