What Becomes: Stories

A. L. Kennedy, Author . Knopf $24.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-307-27354-3

A bold new collection by relentlessly surprising Scottish author Kennedy (Day ) finds her characters pinned somewhere between love and pain. In the title story, about a lone man's evening attending a smalltown cinema, the denouement comes very gradually, as it does frequently throughout, reflecting a kind of reluctant dawning of consciousness: the protagonist, a forensics expert traumatized by having seen so much carnage, has left his wife after the death of their young daughter, an event that has rendered them unable to stand the guilt and anger evoked by the other's presence. “Wasps” captures a young wife and mother as she is making a Sunday breakfast. This seemingly typical scene is frozen by the menace of the philandering husband's leaving for good and his icy treatment of his angry wife. “Saturday Teatime” depicts the panicked delayed memory shock experienced by a child listening to her father's abuse of her mother, while “Marriage” portrays the excruciating emotional and physical aftermath of a violent sexual encounter between a husband and wife. These stories are polished to perfection, full of very dark turns and exemplary of Kennedy's inventiveness. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 11/16/2009
Release date: 04/01/2010
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-307-47624-1
Ebook - 135 pages - 978-0-307-59313-9
Hardcover - 218 pages - 978-0-224-07787-3
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4090-7909-5
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