Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"All the Rage," by A. L. Kennedy

British writer A. L.Kennedy is much better known in the U.K. than in North America, although she is respected by critics and readers on both sides of the ocean who do know her work. I have been vaguely aware of her work for a while, and I believe I have read something of hers sometime, perhaps in The New Yorker, but not much. Her recent story collection, “All the Rage” (published in the U.S. by New Harvest/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) is getting good reviews, and I decided it was time to get to know this writer’s work. A word often used about her work is “fierce,” as in “fiercely observant and very funny” (Evening Standard). I think it is an apt word for these stories. She is clearly a brilliant writer. The stories I liked best were the most traditional, rather than those that consisted of interior monologues, but in all cases, I was impressed. Kennedy describes unusual situations and quirky characters. There is a deep sense throughout, despite a certain edginess, of the humaneness of her vision. I think Kennedy's work is a bit of an acquired taste; I am not quite sure if I have acquired it completely myself, but I am glad I read this collection, and will seek out more of her work.

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