A. L. Kennedy’s new collection of stories show us women and men wrestling with the lives they have been given and the times spinning out around them. Humour, fantasy, rage and despair both help and hinder individuals as they navigate their changing circumstances, their accumulating losses, their moments of comprehension and tenderness. Hoping for a quiet day at the zoo, a woman finally snaps at a white man’s racist tirade and vents years of fury; an American micro-celebrity practises lines for a chat show on which he will never appear; a woman walks out of her honeymoon suite at midnight, perhaps for good; and, in the extraordinary ‘New Mexico’, the host of a podcast reveals why she is haunted by that particular US state.
Wry, caustic and unsparing in her close examination of human relationships and their failures, A. L. Kennedy sees harder than most writers – ‘Other humans are very unhappy, but try to seem glad,’ one character writes. ‘People do their best.’
Mail on Sunday – Max Davidson –
“Connoisseurs of short stories that pack an emotional punch will find plenty to admire in this fine new collection. The leitmotif is desperation but Kennedy is mistress of many moods. The title story shows a couple patching up their differences in a bell tower in Cologne, while Everybody’s Pleased To See You paints a lyrical portrait of a quirky Chelsea cafe that has miraculously defied passing fashion.”
The Observer – Alex Preston –
“AL Kennedy’s latest collection of wise, funny, human short stories came at just the right time. I…emerged feeling better about the world than I had in a while… Kennedy is brilliant at subtly shifting the ground of her stories, gently rotating your perspective so that by the end you’re facing in quite the other direction, not sure of how you got there… [There is] waspish intelligence at work here.”