Noncombatants

By CHARLES TAYLOR  |  April 10, 2007

It seemed to her then that the thing she had done was incredible, that it had not been done by her at all, but by some unhappy and debased stranger, and then, on the table, she found the food he had so solicitously left behind for her, the milk, the chocolate, the soup package, coffee, even cigarettes, and she looked at the nakedness of the gifts as though they contained some terrible confirmation of the fact that the woman who had inhabited this room through the night had, after all, not been a stranger.

The shock and shame and tenderness that vie with one another in that passage, as if they were a tangle of drowning men each striving to beat the others to the surface, yet each so well delineated, can stand as well as anything for the what might be called, a tad repetitiously, a passionate, considered dissection of passion. In his introduction, the novelist Paul Bailey says Hayes does for bruised men what Jean Rhys did for bruised women. The devastating equality his lovers find here leaves them equally battered.

The Slaves Of Solitude | By Patrick Hamilton | New York Review Books Classics | 270 pages | $14.95 (Paper)

The Girl On The Via Flaminia | By Alfred Hayes | Europa Editions | 147 pages | $14.95 (Paper)

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