Fata Morgana by William Kotzwinkle: An 18th-century policeman chases the trail of a mysterious occult conman (or is he?) across Europe. Along the way, there is much danger, deception, magic and mystification and a good deal of sex as well. There are some brilliant set-pieces, lots of picturesque minor characters, and a fascinating ride as the magician catches the policeman in his web, in a most unexpected manner. I actually re-read this book for the first time since high school, and liked it as much as I did then, and now remember where my minor obsession with Cagliostro came from.
Plain Pleasures by Jane Bowles: Economical, somewhat ambiguous stories about desperation, chaos and insanity bubbling beneath the surface of apparently ordinary lives. The best thing in the book is the story Hard Green Candy. It does something I haven't seen achieved this well anywhere else - captures the exact moment when a child's imagination starts to die.I haven't read her novel, 'Two Serious Ladies', but now I certainly intend to.
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