“I’ve got the last Kate Bush album. Have you heard that?“
“Its very good. Would you like to?
If you know why 2 minutes 30 is better than a concept album. Why espresso and not cappuccino. Why malt not blend. Why “awhapbopaloobopbalambo” and not “Knowing Me, Knowing You”. Beckett not Lloyd Webber. Why The Fall are right and Pink Floyd are not. Then these 160 or so pages containing 13 short stories full of grit and some scabrous humour are what you need. With the exception of the fine, final piece – which has chapters for heaven’s sake – they are rarely more than 10 pages each, and do not even take their jacket off, never mind outstay their welcome.
The quote at the top comes from the final story “between the lights“, and is basically one of the last desperate throws of the dice of an early middle-aged, tremendously boring “advertising exec” trying to impress a 17 year old girl he has brought back to his city centre flat. It is not going well.
The book is split into two halves: Work and Home. each explores the loneliness, the bitterness, the sheer-grinding-out-ness of some lives. Hidden in these stiletto narratives are “bigger topics”- homelessness, sexual abuse, addiction, and the pains of both employment and unemployment.
The book is good; it is funny, dark and pulls your expectations apart, time after time.