Everything is Nice

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The Independent Culture

In this 50th anniversary collection of short fiction published by Peter Owen, the publishing house celebrates the work of the extraordinary writers it nurtured: writers who achieved the great feat of entering the canon without being sucked into the establishment. The title story, by Jane Bowles, is a gleaming evocation of the Middle East and the divide between Moslem and European. Tarjei Vesaas describes the slow death of a child in an "ice palace". Pavese disappoints in a tedious tale of artistic disillusion. A prose poem by Octavio Paz embodies best the spirit of this collection, with its diamond-cutting cadences. The true star is Colette, who in three pages can summon up a character, a story and a world.