Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

The Broad Back of the Angel


Broad Back of the Angel
by Leon Rooke

Hardcover
1977
Price: $17.95

Paperback
1977
Price: $9.95

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Thirteen Stories About Love:

In the "Magician in Love" stories a celebrated performer withdraws from the stage to devote his bizarre and wonderful talents to the keeping of a good woman's love. In the "For Love of" series a mysterious Mexican, descendant of Zapata, dresses up in a white suit to conduct purification rites for needy North American females. Elsewhere, a speaker for "Dangerous Women" sends out her signals from the love parlor to all potential lovers, while a nice guy named Rodin risks his neck struggling for "Friendship" through a pair of disarmingly innocent tales. Meantime, back at the nursing home, a beleaguered young patient discovers the key to "Iron Woman" and unlocks the gate for women everywhere. And in the title story a doomed paraplegic abandons his wheel chair and his closet philosophy to instruct Death's Messenger in the works of love.

"Truly exceptional ... Choice…perceived through a highly-developed, selective eye, and almost breathed onto the page." —Scholarly Books in America

"… strange, articulated, cinematic prose, which leaves out nothing, not the gesture of a hand, a noise from the street, comes into its own. He is not straining his medium; he modulates it to perfection." —New York Times Review

"Though Rooke calls Sherwood Anderson, J.D. Salinger and Hemingway, he has created his own fictional world, fashioned his own accomplished style." —Studies in Short Fiction

Excerpt

ABOUT TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO - the Magician was then already middle-aged and had earned a little frame - he wrote a series of letters to all those persons whom he loved, to all those whom he regarded as good and loyal friends. He tells me that in these letters he poured out his soul, he did not spare himself, he revealed all those things of which he was proud and for which he was ashamed. In these letters, he tells me, he contemplated suicide. Don't be surprised, he wrote, if you hear next week that I am dead.

Not one of his friends responded. To this day he has not heard from any one of them. It was the carbons, he supposes. His friends and loved ones did not take kindly to the receipt of their pale copies. They took this as an indication that he did not care as much for them as he did for others. As much as he did for that one who had been honored with the original. Thus offended, they remained silent.

But the original, the Magician tells me, he has retained all these years. Just now, as he gave these letters to me, there were tears in his eyes. His lips trembled. His hands as well. And what a curious paroxysm throughout his body as he shook these papers in my face and gripped my arm: "My friend, my friend! Surely you will understand!"

A moment more of it and he would have been weeping on my shoulder. But fortunately you came in.

I did not know he was such an emotional man.

So childish.

Here, take them away. I'll try to read them next week when I take my train to Lille.