Bezoar and other Unsettling Stories
Intricately woven masterpieces of craft, mournful for their human cries in defiance of our sometimes less than human surroundings, Nettel’s stories and novels are dazzlingly enjoyable to read for their deep interest in human foibles. Following on the critical successes of her previous books, here are six stories that capture her unsettling, obsessive universe. “Ptosis” is told from the point of view of the son of a photographer whose work involves before and after pictures of patients undergoing cosmetic eye surgeries. In “Through Shades,” a woman studies a man interacting with a woman through the windows of the apartment across the street. In one of the longer stories, “Bonsai,” a man visits a garden, and comes to know a gardener, during the period of dissolution of his marriage. “The Other Side of the Dock” describes a young girl in search of what she terms “True Solitude,” who finds a fellow soul mate only to see the thing they share lose its meaning. In “Petals,” a woman’s odor drives a man to search for her, and even to find her, without quenching the thirst that is his undoing. And the title story, “Bezoar,” is an intimate journal of a patient writing to a doctor. Each narrative veers towards unknown and dark corridors, and the pleasures of these accounts lie partly in the great surprise of the familiarity together with the strangeness.