Last month I raved about Ms. Page’s novel Dear Evelyn. In contrast, this book is composed of very fine short stories. Many of you will know that I typically do not like short stories but Page’s writing makes each story a joy to read. There is impeccable detail when describing gardens, for example. But the best stories are about relationships. The tension in a meeting with a genetic counsellor is palpable and heart-breaking. Page is a literary treasure.
As a general rule, I do not read short stories (with a notable exception for the sublime writing of Alice Munro) for a simple and somewhat trivial reason: short stories are too short to engage me. However, Lionel Shriver is a fabulous author (Big Brother, Double Fault, the fantastic We Need To Talk About Kevin…) so I decided to read her first book with ten short stories and two novellas. Shriver is such a keen observer and reporter of human behaviour, and these stories, almost without without exception, are masterful. As is clear from the title, the stories are about the relationships people have with possessions. Her writing is insightful, sometimes hilarious and such a pleasure to read in this format. Highly recommended.
This is a book of previously published short stories. As a collective book, the story-telling becomes even more powerful. Gay’s writing is both compelling and disturbing. The situations she describes are amazingly diverse: raunchy and dangerous with some awesomely poor decision-making. There are situations of danger, physical and sexual abuse. So be warned: this is a book with impact.