When Dominic Cooke took over at the Royal Court, he said he wanted to stage more plays about “what it means to be middle class”. Now, as the reins of artistic director pass to Vicky Featherstone, comes possibly the most middle-class play of his era - and very funny on the topic it is too.
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Friday 12 February 2010
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Romantic Novelists' Association has edited an anthology of new short stories from 40 of its members – many of whom say they'd have given up on writing without the association's support.
Sunday 24 January 2010
Sunday 10 January 2010
Subtitled "Eight Novellas", this is actually a collection of longish short stories, around 20 pages apiece. Each story is based around a woman coping with some kind of crisis – adultery, a break-up, poverty, bereavement, senility – and each has an unexpectedly heart-warming end. Most are set in France in the present day; and they tend to start with a hook in the first line, pulling the reader in. ("To be honest, nothing would have happened if I hadn't changed my hairdresser.")
Friday 08 January 2010
Beatrice Hempel, the main protagonist of Sarah Shun-lien Bynum's beguiling second novel, is a novice teacher and not, she thinks, a very good one. She sets pop quizzes because they're less work to mark than essays, wonders if it's appropriate to laugh when her students fart and courts popularity by feeding them chocolate, and dismissing them early on Fridays.
Sunday 20 December 2009
Friday 18 December 2009
Monday 14 December 2009
Tuesday 08 December 2009
Poet and teacher Kate Clanchy today beat established names such as Orange Prize winners Lionel Shriver and Naomi Alderman to land the BBC's National Short Story Award.
Saturday 05 December 2009
Friday 04 December 2009
Fuentes's new short-story collection takes a look at varying shades of familial unhappiness. In the opening story, a woman gives up her job as a much-groped flight attendant and returns to her parents' home to surf the net; while in "The Armed Family" an ambitious young man reveals his brother's hiding place to the military police.
Friday 27 November 2009
Sunday 15 November 2009
Sunday 08 November 2009
Adapted from an early Bret Easton Ellis novel –essentially an anthology of overlapping short stories – The Informers is a failed attempt ata Robert Altman-style web of vignettes set in Los Angeles in 1984. All of its characters (played by Billy Bob Thornton,Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke and others) arehateful, and the shockingmessage seems to bethat endless, callous selfindulgencedoesn't makefor a very wholesomeand fulfilling lifestyle,after all. Who'd havethought it?
Sunday 25 October 2009
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.
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