All alone in the world
LISTENING TO THE ORCHESTRA and other stories by Susan Hill Long Barn Books pounds 3.99
Sunday 15 December 1996
The richness lies in the texture of the stories themselves. Each is perfectly formed - almost so perfectly, in fact, that they would seem over-careful were it not for their undeniable emotional impact. And they form a neatly varied quartet, variations on the theme of piercing loneliness. The first, the title story, has an Anita Brookner-esque heroine shifted several rungs down the social scale, skivvying in a desolate seaside hotel in winter, where "the loneliness was like a crater in the ground, and she had fallen to the bottom of it. She clawed at the sides sometimes, seeing figures moving about above, and they would see her and look curiously down. But when she looked away again, and moved, she lost her hold and fell back, fingernails ripped and bleeding. Or that was how she dreamed it sometimes, in a waking dream."
A child on her regular outing with a blind uncle witnesses the small, appalling death of his dignity; a young girl in an Irish village feels the drudgery that imprisoned her mother close round her, too, like a steel snare; in a cold, remote Eastern European city two lonely people fail to connect. But in each of these almost unbearably poignant, intricately crafted fictions there is a small twist that brings - well, hardly a ray of hope, but a hint that even the most desolate life contains a gleam of possibility. This is the art of the short story raised to a very high pitch.
! ISBN 0-9528285-0-2. Long Barn Books is at Ebrington, Gloucestershire GL55 6NW
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 3 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 4 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
Laurie Lee's Rosie: What is it like to inspire a writer's work and be immortalised forever on the page?
Metal detectors object to digs by Mackenzie Crook about ‘dysfunctional’ hobby in BBC4's 'Detectorists'
Doctor Who series 8: Time Heist pictures revealed ahead of episode 5
The Walking Dead season 5 air date, trailer and season 4 recap
Star Wars 7 leaked set photo of Adam Driver changes everything
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter