Reflections: Chaos: A Novella and Stories
Versions of how men confront aging define the collection. The novella "Chaos" tells the story of an older author's gradual winding down of his profession and his life-long relationships. The novella ornaments its gray-toned narrative with wit, most notable in Jack's half-loving, half-mocking descriptions of a younger generation of gay men whose values and foibles differ from that of his own earlier years, and who he finds repulsive in the aggregate yet compelling as individuals. The final story, "A Good Sport," also explores the life of an aging gay man in retirement. The narrator, unlike Jack, accepts his fading sex life more calmly, sinking his energies into an old friendship and an opium-induced fantasy, part historical fiction, part the male equivalent of a bodice-ripper.
Because White's talent lies in quietly revealing the quirks of character developed over lifetimes of experience, his skills are better adapted to the mid-length "Chaos" than to the shorter pieces. These latter rarely incite the reader's engagement. On a sentence to sentence level, White is a master. From page to page, however, he is rather more uneven.
Posted by Mille Feuille