Collected Stories, By Janice Galloway

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The Independent Culture

This volume of short stories is made up of two previously published collections – Blood, from 1991, and Where You Find It from 1996 – and it's interesting to note the contrast between the two. The first collection shows childhood fears, issues with growing old, some relationship problems between men and women, but overwhelmingly a focus on the body. The body represents our isolation, not our commonality, here: whether it's a tooth removed by a dentist or just a man washing his face, these things are done in isolation from our friends and family, and Galloway's eye alights ruthlessly on every bodily detail that keeps us separate.

In the second collection, though, it's much more about bodies that have collided, usually in some sexual way, and either cannot part, though they want to, or part though they don't want to. The possibility of men and women living together is rendered funny, true and desperate, always with Galloway's characteristic precision. Her compassion is compassion with bite, her beauty is beauty that stings, and her comfort always comes with a sense of loss. It doesn't make for an easy read, but as with the best medicine, it's good for you.