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What They Didn't Know, Stories and Essays

A number of these stories and essays are reprinted from literary journals, and one essay first appeared in The New York Times Magazine, but most are published here for the first time. The most recent stories range from a California prison to a house in foreclosure outside Trenton, New Jersey, to a high-powered Philadelphia law firm, but though the settings vary, they display thematic unity -- the power and propinquity of the unknown. "From the Depths" is a cycle of seventeen stories about people on the bottom of the social ladder in the early twenty-first century, while the 1980s series, "Kindness in the City, Six Stories," evokes the magic of the metropolis, that is, Manhattan.

The essays deal with four Renaissance literary masterpieces of humanism, by Cervantes, Rabelais, Erasmus and Boccaccio, the work of a contemporary fiction writer, Ozick,and an analysis of Augustine's Confessions. Altogether these stories and essays make for an extremely various and compelling mix.