The narrative energy of Anna Kavan’s short stories lies in structure as much as theme, marked always by the unexpected and brilliant use of lyrical description. Reading the early I am Lazarus collection, I had settled into this idea that the stories were weaker than the later Julia and the Bazooka stories, and they are more uneven in quality but Anna had surprises left in store with the discursive elegance of Glorious Boys. For this story alone and the following unforgettable paragraph, the collection is worth any reader’s attention:
The terrifying independence of the body. Its endless opposition. The appalling underground movements of the nerves, muscles, viscera, upon which, like a hated and sadistic gauleiter, one unremittingly imposed an implacable repressive regime, threatened eternally by the equally implacable threat of insubordination. The perpetual fear of being sabotaged into some sudden shameful exposure.
If you meet me in the street, ask me to recite this paragraph as I shall etch it into my memory for lonely days in the city.