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Between the Flags, Between the Flags, 0932511295, 0-932511-29-5, 978-0-932511-29-4, 9780932511294, , , Between the Flags, 0932511309, 0-932511-30-9, 978-0-932511-30-0, 9780932511300,

Between the Flags

Quality Paper
1990. 189 pp.
Price:  $16.95 t

Cool, elegant, pure, and yet surprisingly eccentric, the thirteen stories in Between the Flags explore contradictions of American experience since World War II. This retrospective of B.H. Friedman's work begins with "As I Am I Will Be," as its central character, Little Boy, faces civilian life after the war. It ends with the title story, in which a nameless man fights for his life against the sea and afterward realizes how little of his identity he carries away. Between these two periods - the forties and the eighties, youth and old age - life stories filled with regret, humor, and subtle complications. They complement the stories collected in Coming Close (1982), also published by Fiction Collective.

Friedman's characters struggle with the ways in which their lives are bounded. The desire to recover the sexual energy of youth propels one character into a confrontation with priapism. An art critic and the painter she made famous nourish and then finally consume each other's talents. In "Whisper," a man cherishes the anonymity that allows him to move freely in his pursuit of "zeros" (money). "Whisper," a prescient parable for the eighties, was expanded into a novel and recommended for a National Book Award by William Gass. Except for "Reunion in Spain," which is published here for the first time, all of these stories appeared previously in distinguished literary magazines.

B. H. Friedman, a real estate executive who gave up his business career to write well-received novels and art criticism and whose books include an early biography of Jackson Pollock, died at 84. The cause was complications of pneumonia.

From the time he graduated from Cornell in 1948 until the early 1960s, Mr. Friedman was by some standards a case study in postwar American business success. He worked in New York City real estate, mostly for Uris Brothers (later known as the Uris Buildings Corporation), a successful firm run by his uncles, where he rose from assistant residential manager of a single building to vice president and company director.

But he was hardly a conventional businessman. A jazz aficionado, an art collector, an experimenter with drugs (his 2006 memoir, “Tripping,” recounts his mind-bending experiences with the guru of psychedelia Timothy Leary), he was, while going to the office by day, also writing fiction and contributing articles on literature, art, architecture and music to a variety of publications.

“Circles,” his first novel, about “sex, status, and professional aggressiveness in the Abstract Expressionist set in New York and East Hampton,” as The New Yorker described it, was published in early 1962, and the next year he left the real estate business to become a full-time writer.

"...should be read by everyone who loves fine writing."

-- Tom Huey

"...so energized it may make you suffer a little."

 -- Budd Schulberg