Following her American debut in The New Yorker, Australian Cate Kennedy delivers a mesmerizing collection of award-winning stories that daringly travel to the deepest depths of the human psyche. In this sublimely sophisticated and compulsively readable collection, Kennedy opens up worlds of finely observed detail to explore the collision between simmering inner lives, the cold outside world, and the hidden motivations that propel us all to act.
In just a few pages, Kennedy captures entire lives, expertly documenting the risks and compromises made in both forging and escaping relationships. Her stories are populated by people on the brink: whether its a woman floundering with her own loss and emotional immobility as her lover lies in a coma; a neglected wife who cannot convince her husband of the truth about his two brutish, shamelessly libidinous friends; or a married woman who comes to realize that her too-tight wedding ring isnt the only thing thats stuck in her relationship. Each character must make a choice and none is without consequenceeven the smallest decisions have the power to destroy or renew, to recover and relinquish.
Devastating, evocative, and richly comic, Dark Roots deftly unveils the traumas that incite us to desperate measures and the coincidences that drive our lives. This arresting collection introduces a new master of the short story.
Cate Kennedy's writing is sharp; her details are meaningful but not meandering, her dialogue spot-on and funny but also totally believable, the plot lines dramatic, but so well crafted that your trust never wavers ..... Think of the rush you get from racing to the end of an up-all-night novel – except there are seventeen of these, each less than ten pages long. If you're pressed for time, you can't really do better than one of these before bed. And if you're not, then you've got a great weekend ahead of you. (Reviewed by Lucia Silva).
The New York Times - Maud Newton
The stories...are melancholy but deliberate and coolly exact.
San Francisco Chronicle - Irene Wanner
Kennedy's book is uneven. A few of its entries miss the mark. But the majority, by far, are fabulous.
These 17 stories are alternately moving, romantic, deeply sad, and/or funny, with unexpected twists and satisfying conclusions.
Starred Review. Kennedy's prose walks the line between sparse and lush, and she trusts that her readers welcome well-articulated ideas balanced with reassuring doses of mystery.
The Guardian (UK) - Catherine Taylor
These are precisely observed pieces, deserving of a wide audience.
The Times of London - Kate Saunders
Each [story] is - like all the greatest short stories - a whole world rendered into a bouillon cube. I'm still laughing over "The Testosterone Club", in which a put-upon wife prepares a fitting punishment for the unreconstructed Aussie male.
Sydney Morning Herald - Stephanie Bishop
This warm and tender collection is by turns funny, wise and achingly sad, the stories tracing the fault line between the inner life, riddled with hopes and anxieties, and the constraints of the outer world in which we are forced to act.
This may be Cate Kennedy's first collection, but she's won prizes for her
short fiction since 1994. One of her stories lost several Australian
competitions and then in 2006 won the biggest prize of them all: publication
in The New Yorker. Unfortunately, short stories fall somewhere just above
poetry and below everything else in terms of their ability to generate sales,
which is painful news for the short-story-lover -- and even more devastating for
the short story writer. As Kennedy lamented in a 2006 interview with the
The Age, "[Editors] say 'I love this, but I can't get it past the
accountants'. That worries me, I don't want that to happen. Even an editor at a
literary publishing house said, 'We all think these are fantastic, but we just
can't sell them'... But a lot of people say to me, Where can I get your
stories?' And there are so many fantastic writers out there practicing the short
story form. When I judge competitions, I end up with a shortlist and I think,
'This would make a cracker of a...
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