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September 05, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

MARRYING OFF MOTHER AND OTHER STORIES by Gerald Durrell (Arcade: $9.95; 197 pp.). The popular author/zoologist describes these delightfully outrageous stories as having "a kernel of truth and a shell of embroidery." In the title story, the author and his spoiled siblings attempt to find a new husband for their widowed mother and receive a worthy comeuppance; their indulgent, eccentric household recalls the Bliss family in Noel Coward's "Hay Fever." The other fictionalized reminiscences in the collection suggest the over-civilized tales of H. H. Munro, including an encounter with a truffle-hunting pig in Perigord that sparks a duel of honor and the romantic tale of a faded dowager in Monte Carlo whose bequest to the local orphans stretches beyond her wildest dreams.

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