About My Table (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
About My Table is Nicholas Delbanco’s first volume of short stories, though he is the author of ten novels and a biographical study of writers in community, Group Portrait: Conrad, Crane, Ford, James, and Wells (1982). Reviewers of Delbanco’s novels have placed him squarely in the modernist tradition, commenting on his emphasis on fictional techniques, poetic style, verbal agility, and sometimes structural discontinuity.
Delbanco’s short stories, too, are thoroughly modernist in character, the surfaces rendered with care, the characters revealed through ironic juxtapositions, the situations ordinary but where ordinariness takes on symbolic dimension by virtue of its commonality. In fact, when read in sequence, the stories take on a dreary repetitiousness. There is a sameness not only about the characters and the point of view but also in the very structure, the skeleton of the pieces. One is struck by the fact that the first five stories are all exactly twenty pages long; the remaining four stories do not stray far from this model, numbering twenty-four, thirty, twenty-four, and sixteen pages respectively. The fifth story, “Ostinato,” is the only one where point of view shifts from third-person limited to the male protagonist to third-person omniscient. The climax of each story occurs within one to two pages to the end, and each story is divided into sections with such regularity as to suggest a wearisome and soporific...
(The entire section is 1539 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Boston Review. VIII, October, 1983, p. 36.
Hudson Review. XXXVI, Winter, 1983, p. 751.
Library Journal. CVIII, September 1, 1983, p. 1720.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. August 7, 1983, p. 2.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVIII, September 18, 1983, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXIV, July 15, 1983, p. 40.
Times Literary Supplement. October 22, 1982, p. 1148.
(The entire section is 41 words.)