Memoirs of Hecate County

by Edmund Wilson

Hardcover, 1946

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1946.

Description

The long-suppressed memoir of sexual fantasy in a small town explores the quiet suburban world where sexual desire is in the air, focusing on the humorous story of a man caught up in several love affairs at once.

User reviews

LibraryThing member HarryMacDonald
I have a tremendous respect for Wilson the literary and social critic. I wish I couls say the same thing for Wilson the fiction-writer as represented in this book. There is a smug coarseness which troubles me throughout. It's one thing to create characters who are dyspathetic, but it is quite another for another to leave the impression, past the narrative itself, that a cold or even nasty mind has been at work. One a much lower level, it's an interesting comment on chganging values that HECATE COUNTY should have been highly controversial upon its initial publication. Compared to an hour of FOX-TV, this book is a Methodist sermon.… (more)
LibraryThing member yarb
A set of six tales with a common narrator and all situated in New England and New York. I liked the use of fantasy, restrained to the extent that it becomes realistic, mirrors those few moments of genuine oddness that we all seem to experience in our lives. There is magic here, but it's momentary, and leaves the characters guessing and second guessing long after we leave them. "Ellen Terhune" is I guess the most avowedly supernatural story, but its time-shifting spookery is handled so adroitly as to take the reader entirely unawares. I'd locate it between Henry and M.R. James's ghost stories - perhaps closer to Henry. The central piece, "The Princess with the Golden Hair", is quite objectionable in the chauvinism of its narrator and its predictability, but it's soaked in a weird sexual fever (it was banned for a while) that makes you keep reading. My favourite was "Mr. And Mrs. Blackburn at Home", but that's because I can't resist a good literary Satan, and here he speaks excellent French and much good sense. He is as good an Old Nick as I've read.

On the other hand, there is not much depth to these stories. If you don't care for the milieu, or Wilson's or the narrator's style, you will probably detest them. There's nothing groundbreaking about "Memoirs of Hecate County", but I found it surprisingly good. I must read some of his non-fiction.
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