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Some Trick is a short story collection full of people pushing up against the literary world or the art world or any of the other narrow-minded "worlds" that determine what creations can be called art. Painters and writers in these stories, some of which have been sitting on a hard drive since the 1980s, have to fight to preserve their talents from what the market wants. DeWitt's great subject is the cost of selling one's work—how easily skill is squandered when the work from a singular mind becomes "cartoonified and fatuous" for the market. The stories reveal a joy in knowledge, and beneath that, an acknowledgement of the refuge it provides from a world so difficult to fathom that it might as well be stupid. DeWitt's own interest in reading beyond a narrow canon of American fiction has also given her a curiosity about technical expertise that most fiction writers avoid.
Madeleine Schwartz reviews Some Trick: Thirteen Stories by Helen DeWitt.