Twice selected for Grantas list of Best Young British Novelists, winner of the 2007 Costa Book Award for her acclaimed novel Day (Day is a novel of extraordinary complexityThe New York Review of Books), which was also chosen as one of New York magazines top ten books of the yearthe internationally revered A. L. Kennedy returns with a story collection whose glorious wit and vitality make this a not-to-be-missed addition to the canon of one of our most formidable young writers.
No one captures the spirit of our times like A. L. Kennedy, with her dark humor, poignant hopefulness, and brilliant evocation of contemporary social and spiritual malaise. In the title story, a man abandons his indifferent wife and wanders into a small-town movie theater where he finds himself just as invisible as he was at home. In the masterfully comic Saturday Teatime, a woman trying to relax in a flotation tank is hijacked by memories of her past. In Whole Family with Young Children Devastated, a woman, inadvertently drawn into a strangers marital dysfunction, meditates on the failings of modern life as seen through late-night television and early-morning walks.
Powerful and funny, intimate and profound, the stories in What Becomes are further proof that Kennedy is one of the most dazzling and inventive writers of her generation
The cinema was tiny: twelve rows deep from the blacked-out wall and the shadowed doorway down to the empty screen, which had started to bother him now, a kind of hanging absence.
How did they make any money with a place this small? Even if it was packed?
Which it wasnt. Quite the reverse. There was, in fact, no one else here. Boy at the door had to turn the lights on just for him, Frank feeling bad about this, thinking he shouldnt insist on seeing a film all by himself and might as well go to the bigger space they kept upstairs which had a balcony and quite probably leg room and would be more in the way of a theatre and professional. In half an hour theyd be showing a comedy up there.
Or he could drive to a multiscreen effort: thered been one in the last big town as he came round the coasthuge glass and metal tower, looked like a part of an airport: theyd have an audience, theyd have audiences to spare.
Although that was a guess and ...
Towards the end of the title story in this bleak yet bracing collection, a man delivers a haunting interior monologue about how people cope, or fail to cope, with loss: "Our town is full of people running back and forth in torn days and every other town is like that, too. Our world is thick with it, clotted in patterns and patterns of grief." In the remaining eleven stories, A.L. Kennedy goes on to depict such towns, such characters, all dealing in their own complex and eccentric ways with despair, longing, and the occasional glimpses of love that enter their lives...
If all this sounds incredibly depressing… well, it sometimes is... On the other hand, her sharp sense of humor acts as a rescuing hand reaching into the bottom of a well, offering a saving grace to her characters in their darkest moments of despair.
(Reviewed by Marnie Colton).
Full Review (1143 words).
"My head will keep on racing throughout this, I have no doubt," declares the speaker at the beginning of "Saturday Teatime" as she embarks on her first experience in the device known as a flotation tank, sensory deprivation tank, or isolation tank. And as she predicts, her thoughts do indeed surge in multiple directions, dredging up painful memories as she lies in salted water within an encapsulated space that she compares to a cupboard. Sealed inside this womb-like, completely dark container, she tries to reassure herself that "this must seem only snug and homely, buoyant: no overtones of drowning, suggestions of creatures that rise from unlikely depths, hints of noise underneath the silence, eager."
The neuropsychiatrist John C. Lilly ...
If you liked What Becomes, try these:
Explores the personal and the universal, the idiosyncratic and the mundane, with all the wit, brio, and verve that have made her one of the best storytellers of our time.
Award-winning writer Maile Meloys return to short stories explores complex lives in an austere landscape with the clear-sightedness that first endeared her to readers.
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