Tear in the Curtain

Tessa Hadley

  • Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg
    Picador, 225 pp, £14.99, July 2006, ISBN 0 03 304445 7

Words at first fail us, when events are too extreme to be caught in subtle nets. Literary language reaches for outrage and finds hollowed-out forms; straining to be adequate to horror, it is all too easy to sound schmaltzy, or sanctimonious, or quivery with frisson. So the title story of Deborah Eisenberg’s new collection approaches its subject with reticence. The narrative, shared between Lucien, the owner of a New York art gallery, and his nephew Nathaniel, is assembled warily, piece by piece, each separated on the page from the others and subtitled (‘Context’, ‘Opportunism’, ‘Continuity’), each in some sense beginning over again the effort to arrive at the thing that happened.

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