A while back on rec.arts.books, someone asked for any recommendations of authors like P.G. Wodehouse. In the ensuing responses, this thin little volume by Durrell was mentioned. I recognized Durrell’s name from my research into travel literature, and thought I’d give his humor a try. These are short stories, told to an unseen chronicler (and fellow diplomat) by an older collegue named Antrobus. The service is foreign, in a generic country name Vulgaria (a cute little dig at snobbish English diplomats). While the language is quite pleasant, and some of the situations quite amusing, what Durrell is missing is that sense of plot known as the conclusion (or, as a character says here, “the pay off”). Durrell tries, but never seems to get it right. I enjoyed it as a brief diversion (the book is less than 90 pages), but doubt I’ll be looking for more.

[Finished 20 July 1993]


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