H. E. Bates A Month By the Lake & Other Stories.
New Directions, 212 pages, $17.95

This is a selection of short works by the English short-story writer and novelist H. E. Bates, who died in 1974. Chronologically, they range from his first published work, “The Flame,” which appeared in 1926, to the title story of his last collection, ” The Song of the Wren” (1972). Included are two stories by “Flying Officer X,” the pseudonym adopted by Bates while serving in the British Army during World War II.

What an extraordinary writer H. E. Bates could be! One first notes his exuberant power of physicality, of evoking settings with delicate intensity: the look and feel of early fall by an Italian lake in the title story, or the summer fields throughout “The Cowslip Field”; the bleak cold of a military airfield in “It’s Just the Way It Is,” or the...

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