In the Sparrow Hills by Emile Capouya
In the Sparrow Hills: Stories by Emile Capouya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was published in 1993 and I read it shortly after, a gift from my editor at Algonquin Books. Emile Capouya led one of those lives that sounds like an adventure story in itself, a seaman, a soldier in two wars, then a change of career, university, and book publishing. He was literary editor of The Nation and head of New Amsterdam books. That much I gleaned from his biography; the rest is in the book itself. The first line of the first story is “This is not a story.” But it is, indeed. It is the sort of worldly, lived book that would have pleased a Hemingway; it is also soft, appealing in the conception of the five stories, and seen from such a gentle perspective. Capouya is the kind of writer I would like to meet over coffee just to see what his conversation is like. The five stories contained in the book are all very fine, preoccupied with matters of the sea, of wartime, but there is such a sense of calm and ease in the writing. I don’t know whether he ever wrote another book; but this one was a masterpiece in its quiet way. Available only from a place like Amazon or through a search of used bookstores. I will have to read these stories again. Such a fine sensibility.