A dozen stories: a dozen ways of looking at love, or the lack of love. Over five previous collections, A. L. Kennedy has shown herself to be a master of the short form, with a perfect way with sentences and a voice so distinct as to be instantly recognisable.
Here, as before, lies the battlefield of the heart, where characters who have suffered disaffection, alienation or emotional damage somehow emerge – haltingly, awkwardly – into the astonishment of intimacy. And here, too, are the ones who will not shake off the hurt and the loss, who will not come through.
The extraordinary title story takes place on a railway platform, with a couple waiting for a train that never comes, and opens out into the husband's shocking admission of years of deceit, and a devastating portrait of a failed marriage, a failed man. Another story shows a woman who is, in every sense, lost and who finds herself – to her bewilderment and alarm – walking the aisles of a sex emporium holding an electric penis. There is great compassion here, and deep, dark humour, but also a stronger sense than ever before that the emotional paralysis can be loosened – that an impossibly uncomfortable lunch, say, between two apparent strangers, can culminate in a passionate kiss. 'You do not know this man. He is practically a stranger. Only he's not.'
About the Author
A. L. Kennedy has twice been selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists and has won a host of other awards - including the Costa Book of the Year for her novel Day. She lives in London and is a part-time lecturer in creative writing at Warwick University.
"One of the most consistently dazzling writers of her generation... Kennedy's stories are a little like love: no matter how many times they break your heart, you still come back for more. This collection proves, once again, that it is always worth it." -- Katy Guest Independent on Sunday "Kennedy is brilliantly, painfully funny about the fault-lines and disaster zones of the typical relationship" The Times "This book celebrates love like a hungry dog celebrates the corpse of a rabbit... Kennedy is, if you like, the Anti-Cartland... Magnificently bleak." -- Jojo Moyes Independent "It is Kennedy's portrayal of the difficulty, if not seeming impossibility, of connecting with other people that makes these stories so moving... Kennedy's disjointed, angular style and weird, displaced atmospherics really work" -- Lionel Shriver Financial Times "A.L. Kennedy's masterful new collection... Stories appear to roam chaotically, like the mind, but of course they are neat, perfect messes." -- Vicky Allan Herald
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 3rd March 2014
Publisher: Random House
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.0 x 15.6 x 2.2
Weight (kg): 0.38