Currently reading

Tales of Ordinary Madness
Charles Bukowski
Progress: 237/238 pages
Invisible Cities
Italo Calvino
Nights of Love and Laughter - Henry Miller

Nights of Love and Laughter is a little know collection of short stories by Henry Miller. Being a Miller aficionado, it is part of my permanent collection.

Since it is little known (even on Goodreads), I will begin by mentioning that this book was first released by New Directions in 1955 and subsequently released as an inexpensive paperback by Signet Books, also in 1955.

The short stories in this collection are:

The Alcoholic Veteran with the Washboard Cranium
Via Dieppe-New Haven
Astrological Fricassee
The Brooklyn Bridge
Mademoiselle Claude
Poros Harbor

Poros Harbor is a fragment from his book, The Colossus of Maroussi and presented here as a short story.
Some other shorts from this collection may have also appeared elsewhere, but I do not feel like searching through my Miller collection to find out where.

There are two stories which really stand out in this book - The Alcoholic Veteran with the Washboard Cranium, and the Astrological Fricassee. Each one occupies the opposite spectrum of seriousness, and while the Astrological Fricassee is a rather whimsical tale featuring an overactive astrologist, Gerald, and various personalities he introduces Henry to during a bizarre meeting in New York City, The Alcoholic Veteran tackles the very serious issue of war and it's effect on people.

Told in the typical Miller style of a nonchalant, happenstance meeting with someone. This time, Miller and his friend Rattner meet a drunk in the French Quarter of New Orleans. What happens next is that they Miller and Rattner invite him to have a bite to eat, and the man starts spinning tales that are out of this world.

Whether the meeting ever actually took place in real life or only in Miller's imagination is unimportant. Through this man's tale, Miller spins out a cautionary tale of war and its effect on people. It is simply brilliant.

"Some men, and their number is greater I fear than most of us would like to believe, find war an exciting if not altogether agreeable interruption to the toil and drudgery of common life. The presence of death adds spice, quickens their usually torpid brain cells. But there are others, like our friend who, in their revolt against wanton killing, in the bitter realization that no power of theirs will ever put an end to it, elect to withdraw from society and if possible destroy even the chance of returning to earth again at some distant and more propitious moment in human history. They want nothing more to do with man; they want to nip the experiment in the bud. And of course they are as powerless here as in their efforts to eliminate war. But they are fascinating species of man and ultimately of value to the race, if for no other reason than that they act as semaphores in those periods of darkness when we seem rushing headlong to destruction."