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April 25, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

A NEIL JORDAN READER: Night in Tunisia, The Dream of the Beast & The Crying Game by Neil Jordan (Vintage: $12.; 267 pp., paperback original). This one-volume collection of the Oscar-winning Irish writer's work includes "Night in Tunisia," a book of short stories; "The Dream of the Beast," a dark novella, and the screenplay for "The Crying Game." Jordan uses each format to draw bleak portraits of middle- and lower-class life in modern Ireland. In the brief story, "Skin," a restless housewife examines her reflection and discovers the "expected listlessness about the features. The vacuity that suburban dwelling imposes, the same vacuity that most likely inhabited the house next door." Jordan's characters nearly attain the self-knowledge that could free them from their drab existence, only to veer away at the critical moment. The starkly vivid screenplay for "Crying Game" will intrigue admirers of the unconventional film, who may find themselves lost in hallucinogenic descriptions of passion and metamorphosis in "Dream of the Beast."

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