It’s hard, these days, not to be suspicious of experimental writing. So much of it seems to be produced by ego-happy no-talents whose main reasons for writing in an unorthodox manner are that (a) they are incapable of writing in the usual way, and (b) they know that it is a great deal easier to attract attention in some critical quarters by being different than by being good. So familiar is this phenomenon in the land of letters that when a genuinely gifted writer, having a very clear idea of what he is doing and why, attempts to reach us by an unfamiliar route, we are often, understandably, less than willing to pack up our gear and meet him halfway. Guy Davenport is such a writer. Apples and Pears is his fourth volume of stories[1] (the first three were Tatlin!, Da Vinci’s Bicycle, and Eclogues), and he has yet...


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