Excerpt from What Becomes by A.L. Kennedy, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

What Becomes

Stories

By A.L. Kennedy

What Becomes
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Apr 2010,
    224 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2011,
    224 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Marnie Colton

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


He’d been in the kitchen, being with the blood. He’d allowed the drops to concentrate at his feet, to pool and spatter, patterns complicating patterns, beginning to look like an almost significant loss. Twenty drops or so for every millilitre and telling the story of someone standing, wounded, but not too severely and neither struggling nor in flight.

He’d been in the kitchen and laid his own trail to the French windows. Tiny splashes hazed a power point in the skirting board, dirtying its little plastic cover—white, the kind of thing you fit to stop a child from putting its fingers where they shouldn’t be. No reason for the cover, of course, their household didn’t need it—protection from a hazard they couldn’t conjure, an impossibility.

He’d been in the kitchen marking the reflections with his blood. Then he’d paused for a few millilitres before he needed to swipe his whole arm back and forth in mid-air, blood hitting the dark glass of the doors in punctuated curves, the drops legging down before they dried, being distorted by motion, direction, gravity. He’d pumped his fist, then tried to cup his hand, catch some of his flow, then cast it off again, drive it over his ghost face and the night-time garden outside, the dim layers of wind-rocked shrubs, the scatter of drizzle, thinner and less interesting than blood. He’d thrown overarm, underarm, tried to get a kick out of his wrist until the hurt in his hand felt anxious, abused. Then he’d rubbed his knuckles wetly across his forehead before cradling them with his other palm, while his physiology performed as could be predicted, increased heart rate jerking out his loss, building up his body of evidence. Read the blood here and you’d see perhaps a blade that rose and fell, or the clash of victim and attacker: blows and fear and outrage, shock.

He’d been in the kitchen and she had come in. Never even heard her unlock the front door, nor any of the usual small combinations of noise as she dropped her bag and shed her coat, made her way along the corridor and then stood. He’d only noticed her when she spoke.

“Jesus Christ, Frank. What have you done. What the fuck are you doing.”

He’d turned to her and smiled, because he was glad to see her. “I’m sorry, the soup’s not ready. It’ll be . . .” He’d glanced at the clock and calculated, so that she’d know how to plan her time—she might want a bath before they ate. “It’ll be about nine. Would you like a drink?” He could feel a distraction, a moisture somewhere near his right eyebrow.

“What the fuck are you doing.”

He’d smiled again, which meant that he might have seemed sad for the second or two before, “I know, but nine isn’t too late.” He needed to apologise and uncover how she was feeling—that would help their evening go well. Time spent paying attention to people is never wasted. “Unless you’re really hungry. Are you really hungry?” Her hair had been ruffled, was perhaps damp—some intervention of bad weather between her leaving the car and reaching their doorstep had disturbed it. Skin paler than normal but with strong colour at her cheeks, as if she was cold. Her suit was the chocolatey one with this metallic-blue blouse, a combination which always struck him as odd but very lovely, “You look tired.” It was the fit of the suit. So snug. It lay just where your hands would want to. “Would you like a bath? There’ll be time. Once it’s ready, it doesn’t spoil.” She’d kept her figure: was possibly even slimmer, brighter than when they’d first met. “I got some organic celeriac, which was lucky.” He seemed slightly breathless for some reason and heavy in his arms.

“What if I’d brought someone back with me. What if they’d seen . . . you.”

Excerpted from What Becomes by A. L. Kennedy Copyright © 2010 by A. L. Kennedy. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Flotation Tanks

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  129Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.