AL Kennedy - All the Rage (5 stars)

Short story collection filled with lyrical beauty, wry humour and acute observation

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AL Kennedy - All the Rage

(Jonathan Cape)

AL Kennedy’s astonishing skill with words is showcased in this short story collection, themed around love and relationships. In the opening story, ‘Late in Life’, a couple – a young woman and older man – stand in a bank queue. They have just drawn up his will, and are now about to pay off her mortgage.

Teasing and bantering with each other, the pair make jokes about their future together and what music she’ll play at his funeral; meanwhile their fears and vulnerabilities, a profound mutual affection and the reality that he will probably die long before she does bubble just under the surface.

Unflinching honesty and stream-of-consciousness prose characterise the book, right up to the final entry, a pin-sharp dissection of an excruciating first date. Elsewhere, we witness infidelities and forbidden longings, dead-eyed sex and an unwanted dildo. The book is filled with lyrical beauty, wry humour and acute observation, imbued by a willingness to dig deep and give voice to the reader’s rawest emotions. All the Rage is an outstanding collection, full of stories to be savoured.

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