Reading John Crowley’s stories is to see almost-familiar lives running parallel to our own, secret histories that never quite happened, memories that might be real or might be invented. In the thirteen stories collected here, Crowley sets his imagination free to roam from a 20th century Shakespeare festival to spring break at a future Yale in his Edgar Award winning story 'Spring Break'.
The publication of a new collection by John Crowley is a rare occasion; I’m happy to report that his new one, And Go Like This, was worth the fifteen-year wait ... 'The “Mount Auburn Street' suite of the stories comprises the center, and perhaps the heart, of And Go Like This. The three linked pieces, 'Littles Yeses, Little Nos,' 'Glow Little Glow-Worm,' and 'Mount Auburn Street' concern men of Crowley’s generation growing older and confronting the future in New England towns not far removed from the one where Crowley lives. They fret about home insurance, they worry about their children, they reflect on their mistakes and seek counseling, they ask their doctor about Viagra. Some genre readers won’t have patience for these quiet slice-of-life stories. That is their loss: These stories, particularly the second two, are accomplished, moving, and wise. And Go Like This will satisfy the high expectations of Crowley’s devoted readers; though it may not be the ideal place to start reading him, nonetheless I believe it will win his work some new converts.
Several of the stories gathered here read like thought experiments given fictional form ... The remaining stories are largely free of genre trappings, and these are among the most resonant in the book ... The oldest and longest story, 'The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines,' is one of Crowley’s most accomplished fictions. Beginning at an imagined Shakespeare festival in Indiana in the 1950s, the story moves forward across decades, encompassing a variety of themes and subjects: love of theater, the Francis Bacon controversy, adolescent sexuality and the unexpected durability of young love...'The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines' is not quite like anything you have ever read, a sentiment that applies to so much of Crowley’s work. And Go Like This is a distinguished, eclectic collection that deserves a large, appreciative audience. I hope it finds one.
And Go Like This is an eclectic sampler of his characteristic preoccupations cast in realist and fantasy modes. While many of the tales express a faith in existential possibilities being actualized by pragmatic decisions, a few are darker, dramatizing how ageing, disease and other impediments narrow options and constrain potential ... [an] amiable voice, observant detail and compassionate vision[.]