Mona Simpson's Bookshelf
By Allan Gurganus
Gurganus is a storyteller in the grand style. This full collection is his most important book so far, a collection of four novellas, each allegorical and starkly modern at once. In Saint Monster, a young boy interrupts his mother and her lover in an amorous session on the family couch and, in doing so, ends the life of his precarious family as he knew it.
We slowly decipher, as he does, secrets about his father, a legendarily ugly-looking and kind man—and are forced to ponder what ugliness is. Gurganus's tales are contemporary moral fables, about the importance of art and that almost-lost ideal, the community.