Books: Of Beasts & Men

GOGOL'S WIFE by Tommaso Landolfi. 1 83 pages. New Directions. $4.

In the medieval bestiaries, the habits of birds, beasts and reptiles proclaimed the glory of God. In this strange and fitful collection of short stories, Italian Author Tommaso Landolfi has created a kind of 20th century bestiary in which the animals speak not to the godhead in man but to the arid reaches of the human heart.

Truant Pet. The Two Old Maids is a story about two aging sisters who live in shabby seclusion with their ancient housekeeper and a beloved pet—a mettlesome monkey named Tombo, who, "though a eunuch,...

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