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Slow Birds


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A new collection of Watson's dense, intelligent and evocative stories is always a challenging and pleasurable experience. As with his novels, each tale examines the moment when the character's world suddenly and inexplicably changes, opening up a previously unknown universe that reveals in retrospect the limits of the everyday. An English couple's cozy accommodation with postcolonial Africa is shaken by their encounter with an old animistic magic. A cartographer engrossed in computer packaged maps finds all his work stymied by the return of the blank, unknown places. And in the best selection, the title story, Watson comments on the madness of nuclear proliferation with a Magritte-like metaphor of exploding birds in a bucolic landscape that is at once precise, bizarre and unforgettable. February

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