Mister Heathcliff’s Fortune and Other Stories

A stunning set of short stories that play on established themes from multiple perspectives, perception of realities and the melding of realities and fictions.

Mister Heathcliff’s Fortune, establishes how Heathcliff acquired his fortune during the three years he was gone from Wuthering Heights. Set in the New Orleans of the 1770’s it is told from the perspectives of two women, a black slave and a card player, both involved with Heathcliff. Lush and atmospheric prose sets the tone. The Affair contains stories within stories chronicling the impact of a brief love affair by a writer whose style and perception shift subtly over a forty year time period. The Sentimental Imagination is a look at a love triangle in early twentieth century Japan through the prose of a husband and the poetry of his wife. The Cartographer is the story of a boy taken in blood tribute to Topkapi Palace at the height of the Ottoman period, whose life and tale take some unexpected turns. The Edge of the Wilderness is about imagination, both as an escape and as a way to process harsh realities.

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Kirkus Reviews

Temmer offers a collection of five diverse, experimental short stories.

These tales, ranging in length from the 14-page “The Sentimental Imagination” to the novella-length title story, take place in disparate settings and time periods, such as the Ottoman Empire, the United States during the French and Indian War, or Paris in the late 19th century. However, they’re united by their exploration of metafictional elements and the concept of time. Some stories share common themes such as spurned love, desperation and unfortunate beginnings. “Mr. Heathcliff’s Fortune” offers an explanation of the title character’s whereabouts during his absence from Yorkshire in the Emily Brontë novel Wuthering Heights: He was in Louisiana, earning money gambling and wrecking lives.

The metafictional final story, “The Cartographer,” begins with the doomed romance of a beautiful courtesan, Guilia, and Antonious, who she doesn’t know is a eunuch; their story is told within a second story about a fictional romance between academics Vittoria and James, which is itself told by novelist Marguerite. The novelist’s actions, meanwhile, are directed by the Divine Mind and the Universal Mind. It’s the most successful story in this collection and the most amusing as well.

Interestingly, many stories’ turning points hinge on written documentation, such as diaries or poems. Despite often flawless prose, the stories tend to suffer from lengthy buildups, with climaxes only occurring in the final pages. Overall, however, although some stories skirt the fine line between intellectual experimentalism and just plain weirdness, fans of short fiction will find them well worth their time. An ambitious story collection.