It's Beginning to Hurt: Stories

It's Beginning to Hurt: Stories

4.7 4
by James Lasdun
     
 

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THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY BEST BOOKS OF 2009
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL BEST FICTION OF 2009
LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOKS OF 2009
FAVORITE FICTION OF 2009 FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

James Lasdun's great gift is his instinct for the vertiginous moments when the essence of a life discloses itself. In sharply evoked

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Overview

THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY BEST BOOKS OF 2009
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL BEST FICTION OF 2009
LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOKS OF 2009
FAVORITE FICTION OF 2009 FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

James Lasdun's great gift is his instinct for the vertiginous moments when the essence of a life discloses itself. In sharply evoked settings that range from the wilds of northern Greece to the beaches of Cape Cod, these intensely dramatic tales chart the metamorphoses of their characters as they fall prey to the range of human passions. As James Wood has written, "James Lasdun seems to me to be one of the secret gardens of English writing. . . . When we read him we know what language is for."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This accomplished poet, novelist, and story writer's collection packs a devastating punch. Lasdun peels back the facades of middle-aged, middle-class types through their run-ins with cancer, infidelity and loss that lead them to deal with unexpectedly large and often ugly recognitions. The title story is less than three full pages, but generates near-boundless futility and regret as a businessman, having just attended the funeral of a long forgotten former lover, can't help falling back into the old habit of lying to his wife about how he's spent the day. "The Incalculable Life Gesture" builds to a climax of relief as an elementary school principal, feuding with his sister, follows through a series of tests that indicate he has lymphoma-until a specialist reveals the truth of his ailment. In "Peter Kahn's Third Wife," a sales assistant in a jewelry boutique models necklaces for a wealthy wine importer who brings in a series of successive wives-to-be over the years. Jewels of resignation and transformative personal disaster, these stories are written so simply and cleanly that the formidable craft looks effortless. (Aug.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Stellar collection combines a sharp eye for detail, subtle character development and virtuosic command of narrative voice. A British native who now lives in upstate New York, Lasdun (Seven Lies, 2006, etc.) also writes poetry, novels and screenplays, but his fourth volume of stories suggests that his strength lies in the short form. The title piece is the shortest, less than two-and-a-half pages, and functions as the prose equivalent of haiku in its evocation of an affair, a death and a marriage that is all but dead. Yet that same title could apply to practically every one of these stories, which often detail a pivotal point at which a man (usually) comes to terms with his essential character and discovers something hurtful or troubling about himself. In "An Anxious Man" (most of the titles are far more generic than the stories themselves), an inheritance disrupts a family's equilibrium, as the wife's attempts to play the stock market during an economic downturn make the husband fearful of everything, even as he questions his judgment. "Was it possible to change?" asks the protagonist of "The Natural Order," a faithful husband whose trip with an incorrigible womanizer leaves him both appalled and envious. In "Cleanness," a widower's marriage to a much younger woman forces his son to confront his own indelible impurities. "A Bourgeois Story" explores "the peculiar economy of . . . conscience," as an unexpected reunion of college friends, one of whom has become a well-to-do lawyer while the other has turned increasingly radical, leaves the former as uncomfortable with his own life as he is with his one-time friend. Chance encounters and unlikely connections prove particularly revelatorythroughout. The piece that is least like the others, "Annals of the Honorary Secretary," provides a mysterious parable of art that concludes, "Like most lyric gifts, it was short-lived. On the other hand, the critical exegesis has only just begun."Merits comparison with the understated artistry of William Trevor or Graham Swift.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312429867
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
08/03/2010
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
940,841
Product dimensions:
8.48(w) x 11.06(h) x 0.65(d)

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