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.

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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.