Dr Who And The Drosten’s Curse

This is the first ALK outing into Dr Who territory and deals with strange goings on at the Fetch Brother’s Hotel and Golf Spa, just outside Arbroath. Set in the 1970’s, this adventure features the much-loved fourth incarnation of the Doctor, as played by Tom Baker. He’s accompanied by two assistants unique to this story while he battles horrible mind control, manipulated matter, over-enthusiatic badgers and a monster from the earliest days of the universe….

9781849908269

Here’s a review from We Love This Book and other from The Independent.

Events around the publication are still ongoing and are proving to be great fun.

All The Rage

alltherageThis is a short story anthology, dealing with love, loss and – of course – rage. Here’s a rather nice and explanatory review from The New York Times and another from The Guardian.

 

On Writing

On WritingAfter six novels, five story collections and two books of non-fiction, and countless international prizes, A.L. Kennedy certainly has the authority to talk about the craft of writing books – it’s just a wonder she’s found the time. These are missives from the authorial front line – urgent and vivid, full of the excitement, fury and frustration of trying to make thousands of words into a publishable book.

At the core of On Writing is the hugely popular blog that Kennedy writes for the Guardian – and we follow her during a three-year period when she finished one collection of stories and started another, and wrote a novel in between. Readers and aspiring writers will have almost everything they need to know about the complexities of researching, writing and publishing fiction, but they will be receiving this wisdom conversationally, from one of the funniest and most alert of our contemporary authors.

Alongside the blogs are brilliant essays on character, voice, writers’ workshops and writers’ health and the book ends with the transcript of Kennedy’s celebrated one-person show about writing and language that she has performed round the world to huge acclaim. Read together, all these pieces add up to the most intimate master-class imaginable from one of the finest – and most humane – writers in our language.

Blue Book

bluebook“The Blue Book” will be out as a paperback at some point in August and we’ll let you have a look at the new cover as soon as possible.

We don’t want to give too much away at this point, but we can say that “The Blue Book” is a love story and involves a fake medium.

And hello to all those of you who find it tautological to put the word fake in front of the word medium.

More will be revealed later, as they say, and meanwhile you can go to this link http://www.lannan.org/lf/rc/event/a-l-kennedy/ to hear ALK reading from the novel and chatting in Santa Fe with those very nice Lannan Foundation people.

Indelible Acts

indelibleThe twelve stories in Indelible Acts are variations on a theme of longing – the unassuagable human need for contact, for completion, for that most fugitive gift of all:
reciprocal love. Its characters’ lives are thwarted, dashed, impassioned, each in their own way immolated by hope.

A queue outside a cheese shop leads to a thrilling infidelity; a crematorium funeral exposes a love gone sour; a foreign hotel room becomes a diorama of despair as physical sickness becomes a metaphor for incurable grief. In the title story, two lovers confront their lusts amid the ruins of Rome; in ‘A Bad Son’ a young boy from a damaged home searches for some kind of peace in the newly fallen snow.

Each story in this mesmeric new collection is an epiphany, a revelation: eloquent, excoriating – saved from bleakness by humanity and humour – unflinching and unwavering in its scrutiny of desire and loss. Justly celebrated as one of the most original young writers at work today, A.L. Kennedy writes stories of such intimacy, such aching honesty, that they are impossible to forget.

Reviews:

Most of the reviews for “Indelible Acts” were distressingly favourable, although many were also rather scary – which is why the review categories here differ slightly from those listed for previous publications.

A review (in French) of AL Kennedy’s Indelible Acts is on line : http://www.sitartmag.com/alkennedy.htm

Good:

“…rich originality and humanity of a writer, still in her thirties, who is becoming on of Britain’s very best.”
Katie Owen The Times

“This is Kennedy’s fourth collection and again she shows herself to be a mistress of her art.”
Michael Arditti The Independent

“It is Kennedy’s assured humour and her psychological astuteness that rescues (sic) this immaculately crafted collection from a well of utter desolation.”
Helen Brown – The Daily Telegraph
Not that a well of utter desolation is any bad thing, I always say…

“And the humour is magnificent.”
Michael Thompson-Noel – Financial Times

Someone finally noticed I’m trying to be funny from time to time.

Bad:

“As always with Kennedy, the intense craftedness is occasionally oppressive…”
John O’Connell – Time Out

“If Kennedy wants to avoid becoming the next generation’s queen of hopeless longing, her characters need to get out more.”
Sarah Smith – Literary Review

Silly:

“Not all the men have committed adultery…”
Katie Owen – The Times

“…Kennedy has suffered many years of back and neck pain – a fact that may have helped shape an artistic sensibility in which emotions are often manifested through physical symptoms.”
Susan Flockhart – The Sunday Herald

The kind of guess that academics usually make. In fact, if you think about it, most people’s emotions are manifested through physical symptoms. And I started writing about people and their emotions long before my back packed in. (Which, incidentally, tends to blur rather than enhance your understanding of physicality.)

“A.L.Kennedy lives on the edge and so do her characters.”
Michael Thompson-Noel – Financial Times

Actually, a nice cup of tea is the highlight of my day.

“…it is better to have loved and suffered than never to have loved at all.”
Allan Radcliffe – The List

All together now – Oh, no it’s not.

“Among her gifted generation of Scottish writers, she stands supreme, she stands alone.”
Tom Adair – Scotland On Sunday

Possibly the silliest thing anyone has said, yet. But if you ever want to be put on a pedestal, Tom has one and is an enthusiastic reader and nice man and so forth.

Scary:

“A.L.Kennedy has long been established as an extraordinary writer of ordinary agonies.”
Alice Ferrebe – Scotland On Sunday

“Kennedy writes with flaying precision about the things we won’t often admit to ourselves, let alone speak aloud.”
Charlotte Mosley – Daily Mail

“Kennedy reigns supreme in describing the terror and fascination of self-annihilation, whether corporeal or emotional.”
Rosemary Goring – The Herald

“Couples torment and betray one another as a matter of course.”
Michael Arditti – The Independent

“It’s a brilliant, but extremely painful read, sparsely populated with chokingly desperate characters. If you’re feeling at all emotionally precarious, it could tip you right over the edge. But if you think you can keep your balance, these 12 stories are the most devastating you will read this year. ”
Helen Brown – The Daily Telegraph

I think this should be on the cover of the paperback edition – like the health warning on cigarettes…

“Many of these people fear judgement and punishment; there is an interesting Calvinism in Kennedy’s world view which she exploits to advantage.”
Catriona Crowe Sunday Times

Contradictory:

Books of stories are, of course, especially plagued by contradictory reviews – usually picking out one story that A loves and B detests and so forth. Or you can always argue about forms… And people wonder why writers don’t find reviews entirely helpful.

“Kennedy is an intense, unbending writer, and no more so than here, but some readers may find themselves wishing for some of the black magic realism that infects her novels and makes her best writing take flight.”
Claire Allfree – Metro

“Her third person novels… seem farther distanced, producing a billowing sense of shapelessness, a drag from which her stories never suffer.”
Tom Adair – Scotland on Sunday

“AL Kennedy’s last novel… was a huge epic of a book. Indelible Acts is a slim volume of short stories, but equally as satisfying.”
LR – The Big Issue

“…in A Wrong Thing … I found it hard to find any sympathy, let alone interest…”
Sarah Smith – Literary Review

“A Wrong Thing is a virtuoso slice of writing about an obsessive, thwarted by illness and paranoia…”
Tom Adair – Scotland On Sunday

What Becomes

Here is the hardback cover for “What Becomes” – image created by the excellent gentleman and photographer, Kevin Low. You may wish to order a copy from the splendid WORDPOWER bookshop. Or feel free to make your own arrangements for purchase and delighted posession. Below you can read an extract of the cover blurb, kindly provided by Jonathan Cape.

“Always attuned to the moment of epiphany, these twelve stories are profound, intimate observations of men and women whose lives ache with possibility – each story a dramatisation of the instant in a life that exposes it all; love and the lack of love, hope and the lack of hope.

These men and women are perfectly ordinary people – whose marriages founder, who sit on their own in a cinema watching a film with no soundtrack; whos risk sex in a hotel with an anonymous stranger. They conceal tenderness and disappointment, vulnerability and longing, griefs and wonders…

A.L.Kennedy’s fifth remarkable collection of short stories shows us exactly what becomes of the broken-hearted. She reveals the sadness, violence, hurt and terror, but also the redemption of love – and she does so with the enormous human compassion, wild leaps of humour, and the brilliantly orginal linguistic skill that distinguishes her as one of Britain’s finest writers.”

Listen to a reading of one of the stories given at the 2008 Edinburgh International Book Festival here>>. Recording courtesy of the fine folks at the EIBF.

Everything You Need

everythingNathan Staples is comsumed by loathing and love in equal measures.He is sustained only by his passionate devotion to his estranged wife, Maura, and their teenage daughter, Mary – whom he hasn’t seen in fifteen years, and who thinks he’s dead. When Nathan contrives to have Mary invited to the island where he lives in retreat, he sets in motion the possibility of telling her that he is her father, and becoming complete again.

The path to grace, however, is strewn with obstacles. The obsesive island dwellers are trying to sure themselves through trial by extremity, while in London, Nathan’s editor, only friend and one link with his literary career, is drinking himself into the ground. And Mary is torn between familial love for the two uncles who brought her up in loco parentis, and the beginnings of a romantic, sexual life beyond.

US and Dutch (“Alles Wat Je Nodig Hebt”) editions were published in 2001.

Reviews

Good:

“Her expanded social canvas extends from beautifully observed literary London to the UK’s island margins. With this book she arrives in the front rank of contemporary British novelists. A Booker contender.”
Publishing News

ALK: Ha, ha, ha

“…she may not always be kind, but her fiction is consistently honest and real and compulsively readable.”
The Observer

“Despite its length, every few pages boasts at least one line you could kick yourself for not having thought of first. You will also find Kennedy’s thoughts on writing as well as some well-aimed shots at the publishing industry through Jack, Nathan’s long-time editor and only true friend. Very long, but very rewarding.”
Sunday Herald

“It is A.L.Kennedy’s unconventional use of language and her animated way of turning sober detail into something exotic that makes this book such a joy to read.
Metro, London

“Its rare achievement is not that it grips from first to last, but that it does so by telling the truth.”
Lawrence Norfolk – The Times

Bad:

“She has won the licence to do pretty much as she please and it shows.”
Eileen Battersby – Irish Times

ALK: If this were true aboutany area of my life, believe me, I’d be so happy, I’d buy shares in the Irish Times.

“Kennedy’s sprawling and harshly seedy saga creaks along for more than 500 pages, without every proving sympathetic or even particularly interesting.”
Eileen Battersby – Irish Times

Silly:

“If it is possible to love and loathe a novel at the same time, then Everything you need seems to produce such a paradoxical response.”
Nuala McCann – Irish News

“‘Our words are our right, but they’re also our privilege,’ Nathan says. Or, in the case of Kennedy, something approaching a sacrament.”
Toronto Globe and Mail

“English literature does sometimes have an audience for this kind of thing…”
Jenny Turner – Yorkshire Post

“…demanded an unflinching gaze that left the schlock-horror of Thomas Harris’s Hannibal far behind.”
Alex Clark – The Guardian

Ignore most of the plot…”
The Scotsman

“In what sense can such a memory be ‘slick’?”
David Craig – LRB

ALK: Man doesn’t get out much, does he ?

“By the time three years have passed, she hasn’t even walked as far as the Head, which is the chief landmark.”

ALK: But he doesn’t stay in reading, because this is, in two respects, factually incorrect.

“She has the richest pornographic empathy of any writer working today…”
Candia MacWilliam – Caledonia

“Nathan has a dog whose name, to my regret, is Eckless. So I waited, miserably, for the missing F or R…”
Candia MacWilliam – Caledonia

ALK: And, to my regret, she missed the explanation of the missing consonant on page 156. The moral of the story is – don’t write a long book, no one will read it.

Day

DaypI’m still not listing reviews for Day – It won a Saltire Award, the Costa Prize, the Eifel Literaturpreis, the Austrian State Prize For International Literature and helped me get a Lannan Award – so bits of it are probably quite good, although some people have trouble with the first 50 pages or so.

Through the wonders of the Interweb, you can hear me reading from Day and answering questions about it, courtesy of the fine people at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Ramona Koval of the ABC. So then you can make up your own mind.

Original Bliss

original-blissThe stories in Original Bliss are concerned, appropriately, with the complexities of sex and the lack of it. Whether in Copenhagen or New York City, in the close confines of a TV wardrobe department or in weightless outer space, A.L.Kennedy’s characters are engaged in possibly fruitless attempts to close down emotional distances and fill a physical void.

In the long novella that gives the book its title, Helen Brindle thinks she has lost God- but it is simply love that she’s missing. She can’t find it at home, with the violent, deadly Mr Brindle,; but will she find it in Stuttgart when she meets the enigmatic Edward E. Gluck, with his Process and his paraphilia? And what happens when her father confessor starts to confess? A beautiful and terrifying examination of passion and pornography, of the aching need for completion and healing, ‘Original Bliss’ is a huge achievement.

Taken together, the work in this book is testament to a unique and extraordinary talent. The rare combination of exquisite writing, profound thought and an electrifying grasp of our most intimate desires makes this book of real importance.

German (“Gleissendes Gluck”) and French (“Volupté Singuliére”) editions were published in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

Buy This Book

Reviews

Good:

“Kennedy delivers these bittersweet truths with imagery that is often arresting”
Stephen Amidon – The Sunday Times

“Kennedy depicts the complex workings of love and desire with rare honesty and humour.”
Sunday Times

“What is really worth observing about “Original Bliss”is that it is like no other book, and that its author deserves to be compared to no one but her own fiercely talented self.”
Daphne Merkin

ALK: Kind review, unfortunate second name.

“A compelling story about sex and the need for love, it is a tremendous performance, black and brutal as well as eccentric, touching and funny.”
Selina Hastings – Evening Standard

“Subtle, erotic and never silly, Kennedy’s physicists convince as Winterson’s do not – even when jerking off in space.”
Amanda Craig – New Statesman and Society

ALK: Not that I’ve ever actually written about physicists.

Bad:

“Kennedy’s prose is too stodgy for mass appeal and the effect is one of gloom and despair.”
Judith Rice and Daniel Britten – Daily Telegraph

ALK: Well, the knowledge that I don’t have mass appeal would render me prone to gloom and despair, I’m sure.

“At 150 pages, it seems over-freighted, unable to keep all its balls in the air.”
Steven Poole – Independent on Sunday

Silly:

“love is a many spendoured thing, unless you’re a character in an A.L.Kennedy short story, in which case it twists you, shakes you, throws you around the room and gives you a kick in the stomach, just to make sure.” “…her crystal-sharp prose rewards the reader on every page.”
Andrew Johnston – The Observer

“Even at her dullest, she’s startlingly sharp…”
Robert Hanks – Independent on Sunday

“Very much a woman’s book”
Brian Case – Time Out

ALK: And, given the number of errors in his factual descriptions, a woman’s book he didn’t bother to read.

So I Am Glad

soiamJennifer M. Wilson has decided to become a voice. A professional enunciator, an announcer, a voice-over artist, she has retreated into a world of words.

Behind the sound-proof double doors of the recording studio she must surely be safe from the painful inconveniences of hate and love. Until reality breaks in.

Words no longer offer an escape, they begin to carry unavoidable meaning, emotion, life and a catalogue of shattering fact. Jennifer uncovers the words her childhood buried and learns the harsh vocabulary of addiction and the addictive extremes of sex. For the first time she can celebrate her loathing of Britain’s pathological politics. Above all, she finds herself speaking the unfamiliar words of love. Naked, subversive, terrifying love.

An alchemical romance, a Swiftian satire for our times, an impossible spiritual journey and a devastating plummet into insanity and perversion, So I Am Glad- oblique, incisive, horrific and hilarious by turn- is the finest book yet from this gifted writer.

REVIEWS

Good:

“Kennedy’s deadpan irony – her dialogues, in particular have a noirish sitcom feel – and her beautiful, translucent descriptive passages project a dreamlike aura over what is finally, despite its narrator’s protestations, a moving story.”
Publisher’s Weekly (US)

“… the novel works because we are given a full-blooded, endearing Martin, a saddened but decent man, worth Jennifer’s holding onto. As the lovers set off for a climactic trip to Paris, the reader roots heartily for them, against all odds.”
David Sacks – New York Times Book Review

“What Kennedy has done is to take us, with Jennifer, from indifference to passionate, nail-biting investment in her characters, to unequivocal hope for the future of a relationship between a reformed alien and a bioluminescent ghost.”
Nell Freudenberger – Voice Literary Supplement

“It is a resonant and hopeful moment, for Kennedy and her readers.”
Dinah Birch – LRB

“This love may be unusual, but within an atmosphere of prophetic light and shade, So I Am Glad is made heartening by an inrush of common, tremulous human feeling.
Rebecca Gower – Independent

Bad:

“These lecture notes for a better and unrealised book are state-of-society art, but her writing’s as tough as ever.”
David Hughes – The Mail on Sunday

Silly:

“Irish writer spins fabulous love story”
Ara Taylor – Bellingham Herald

“It makes you wonder, not a little apprehensively, what Kennedy will do next.”
Kate Hubbard – Literary Review