Books: The Occasional Victory

TALE FOR THE MIRROR (307 pp.)—Hortense Calisher—Little, Brown ($5.50).

The short story is surely the most intractable of prose forms. Few authors can write one well; yet anything less than brilliance is worthless. A mediocre novel can at least be a tolerable companion; a mediocre short story is merely a bore. But a writer who masters the form hears only the faintest of applause; his publisher wants to know when he is going to turn out a novel. Collections of short stories once helped launch such writers as Hemingway and Katherine Anne Porter, but these days short stories are worth little in...

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