Day, by A L Kennedy

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The Independent Culture

Of course there are good things you can say about A L Kennedy's Day: it's highly original and often remarkable. But so are some hats and bad days at the office, and you wouldn't necessarily want to remember them.

It is the story of Alfred Day, a Lancaster bomber tail gunner during the Second World War. His internal monologue reflects on the camaraderie he enjoyed with his crew, and of his abilities as a killer. After the war he works in a bookshop, and then as an extra in a war film, all the time wondering what it is, precisely, that's going on.

Kennedy has received much praise for her prose style, something that surely underlines the addled, exhausted state of contemporary British writing. Another story of masculinity gone wrong, albeit one written by a woman, is hardly what the literary world needs now. These narrow, male sentences perform an over-familiar trick, striving for the kind of authenticity or concrete phrase that will be repeated ad nauseam on tombstones and in political speeches: "Infinity is fond of wars, they give it a way to come in." This is a deadly and deadening vision; words with the life sucked out of them.