It's Beginning to Hurt: Stories

James Lasdun, Author
James Lasdun, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $23 (227p) ISBN 978-0-374-29902-6
Reviewed on: 06/08/2009
Release date: 07/01/2009
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4299-2333-0
Paperback - 257 pages - 978-0-09-951232-5
Hardcover - 257 pages - 978-0-224-08090-3
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4464-1826-0
Paperback - 227 pages - 978-0-312-42986-7
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This accomplished poet, novelist, and story writer's collection packs a devastating punch. Lasdun peels back the facades of middle-aged, middle-class types through their run-ins with cancer, infidelity and loss that lead them to deal with unexpectedly large and often ugly recognitions. The title story is less than three full pages, but generates near-boundless futility and regret as a businessman, having just attended the funeral of a long forgotten former lover, can't help falling back into the old habit of lying to his wife about how he's spent the day. “The Incalculable Life Gesture” builds to a climax of relief as an elementary school principal, feuding with his sister, follows through a series of tests that indicate he has lymphoma—until a specialist reveals the truth of his ailment. In “Peter Kahn's Third Wife,” a sales assistant in a jewelry boutique models necklaces for a wealthy wine importer who brings in a series of successive wives-to-be over the years. Jewels of resignation and transformative personal disaster, these stories are written so simply and cleanly that the formidable craft looks effortless. (Aug.)

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