Beasts (1986)

From Curbstone Press:

Beasts consists of ten fictions modeled on the medieval bestiary. Each particular beast, whether “Sheep,” “Monkey,” “Salamander,” “Sidewinder,” etc. is employed variably: as the name of a parlor game, as the name of a prison, as a title without apparent reference. Yet Jaffe has so devised his fictions that the predominant resonance of each individual beast is powerfully allegorical.

The allegory always has to do with the socially dispossessed: out-of-work Blacks, adolescent heroin addicts, miscellaneous social rejects. As in his previous fiction, these are Jaffe’s subjects and his portrayal of them, always from one oblique angle or another, is uncanny.

Reviews:

Beasts is a blessing, a dazzling construction of fiction that resurrects the genre. Jaffe rates a ‘high five and a super spliff.”
–John A. Williams

“If there can be no successful revolution without love, there can be no successful revolutionary literature without love either. In Beasts we have it. These voices from the submerged population call us in, and we can’t resist them. They have a secret to tell us in their own accents. This is a collection of authentic unforgettable prophesies.”
–Fanny Howe

“Harold Jaffe’s remorseless kaleidoscope spins his beautifully crafted little emblems of modern society — the junkies and swingers, the blind and the seers, the victims and rebels — in tumbling patterns whose significance is forced into our imagination. His bestiary displays a rare combination of satire, compassion, and analysis, and he brings out the surreal quality of ordinary life with wit and precision.”
–H. Bruce Franklin

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