Reviews -- A Music Behind the Wall, Volume One

"The stories demonstrate an attractive, humane voice and a magical ability to make meaning and myth of daily existence.... They make up a weird and atmospheric collection that is impossible either to summarize or to put down."
-- Booklist
"Like the best supernatural writers, Ortese understands that what distinguishes the genre is the fear that our nervous forebodings are not reducible to inner trauma and turmoil. To conceive of the ghost story purely as a battle with psychological demons, however terrifying they may be, is to denature it. Ortese takes her spirits very seriously, so much so that the haunted narrator in "The House in the Woods" can't tell whether she's dreaming or awake -- she eats a page of Kant out of sheer bewilderment... The horror, and beauty, of Ortese's writing hinges on the issue of externality: the fear of something out there that is not oneself, something wholly independent of one's wishes and feelings."
-- Bill Marx, Boston Phoenix
"Recommended for academic collections and for readers of serious, unconventional fiction."
-- Library Journal
"These 10 stories are collected from her works...timeless tales of mood, emotion and nuance. They will appeal to any who enjoy the short story form."
-- The Reader's Review
"One senses in these gossamer tales that the spiritual world envelops [Anna Maria Ortese] and pervades her being.... Each one of these stories is meant to be savored. Read one, then set the book aside and allow your mind to wander and wonder. You will no longer be impelled to rush out somewhere, do things, 'accomplish.'...One cannot fail to admire her quiet wisdom..."
-- Rosette C. Lamont, Collages & Bricolages

Reviews -- A Music Behind the Wall, Volume Two

"Deliciously eerie, enigmatic, and resonant symbolic fictions.... Ortese's stories, written over more than a half-century of courageously sustained creative effort, are deftly declarative explorations of their author's own inquiring sensibility, packed with autobiographical details and observations and explicitly discursive reportage.... Enchanting stuff from a unique writer. If you like Borges, you'll like Ortese."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"The roster of contemporary Italian fantasists available in translation for an English-speaking audience is a short but superior one. At the top reside Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco, followed closely by Dino Buzzatti and Tommaso Landolfi. To this brief list must now be added the name of Anna Maria Ortese (1914-1998). Although her long career in her native land began in the '30s, only recently have three volumes of her work become available in America: The Iguana , a novel, and A Music Behind the Wall, two volumes of short stories spanning her writing lifetime. Their late appearance here is a posthumous gift of great value to readers of imaginative literature -- all thanks must go to uncommonly skillful translator and editor Henry Martin -- and these uncanny fictions should be warmly received.... Deploying simple settings and recurring symbols -- railway stations, butterflies, snow, forests, islands, castles, drawings -- Ortese conjures up haunting psychological states of alienation felt by all but the least sensitive among us from time to time, her prose alternately lucid and darkling."
-- Washington Post Book World
"Ortese's teasingly opaque stories--which defy summary--derive rich, symbolic fantasy from such mundane subjects as a girl's wary idealization of her dispassionate father ('Slanting Eyes') and a writer's delight in her own ingenuity ('The Villa'). In her strongest works--such as the eerie family dramas 'Redskin' and 'Folletto in Genoa'--Ortese suggestively links her own determined 'persona' with the complex ordeal of a civilization traumatized by political instability and world war. The sense of struggle and urgencythat permeates these often discursive stories paradoxically suffuses themwith highly individual specificity and drama."
-- Bruce Allen, The News and Observer(Raleigh)
"Ortese uses startingly beautiful and delicate language and magical situations to explore the essential nature of existence..."
-- Booklist

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