What most impresses me about the work of V.S. Pritchett is its stunning variety. I am faced with the question that often arises in confronting a substantial artist: how can he know all that he does? Each story is unique in its characters, techniques, its tone: each creates its own small peculiar world. “Blind Love,” the title story of an earlier volume, and the third story in this one, deserves special mention.
Don’t tap your foot. Listen to the words. If I was to be marooned on a South Sea Island with a half dozen metaphors, that would be one. It’s as elastic as a new pair of underwear, and snugly fits the times. Marooned last month in California, at the Whole Earth Jamboree, I listened. In California, the beat is compelling. It’s a state, and a state of mind, where everything seems possible, where the dreams of an age sink down roots, and grow, as dramatically as Findhorn’s 40-pound cabbages, yet may die before their seeds are carried “in from the coast.” Reflecting the best and worst in ourselves, it’s still the frontier, ever receding; the deeper we go into ourselves, the more there is to discover.
Byron was born and raised in the City, but he was very unhappy there. He went to work every day in an office with bright lights and soft furniture, and though the people he worked with always seemed to have fun, he was usually unhappy. “I feel out of place,” he’d say, and he’d dream of the forests, rivers, and skies he had seen on camping trips to the mountains.