THE COMPLETE BUTCHER'S TALES by Rikki Ducornet. (Dalkey Archive Press: $19.95; 166 pp.) "Mademoiselle Clistore taught the Feminine Arts at the Osiris Academy in Cairo, Egypt, from 1945 to 1954..." or there's this first line in another story: "Dogs are dirty, birds are filthy, fish are clean except for the intestines which are dirty." Rikki Ducornet is a mischievous imp of an author; she ought to be spanked for having such a good time. Her stories are like a crowded nursery in a wealthy British home in the end of the 19th Century; she writes with an imagination that floats off out the windows like a helium balloon, like Peter Pan. "And Felibien is holding a creature of fire and venom in his arms, and the world smells of mint and money...Is this permitted? This promiscuity of thought?" The author might well ask, for she forces the language to speak with the voice of the subconscious. And the stories hold together, they feel complete (if not in the ordinary beginning and end sense of the word) but the details (an "unusually complexioned pebble"!) are sublime.

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