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Theory with a Wife

Michael Wood, 3 October 1985

Mr Palomar 
by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 118 pp., £8.50, September 1985, 0 436 08275 6
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Parrot’s Perch 
by Michel Rio, translated by Leigh Hafrey.
Dent, 88 pp., £7.95, September 1985, 0 460 04669 1
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Light Years 
by Maggie Gee.
Faber, 350 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 571 13604 4
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... At the beginning of Robert Musil’s Man without Qualities a well-dressed couple arrives at the scene of an accident on a busy street in Vienna. The lady is uncomfortable, ‘had a disagreeable sensation in the pit of her stomach, which she felt entitled to take for compassion’. The man, after a pause, says: ‘These heavy lorries they use here have too long a braking-distance ...

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