Man Booker–winner Swift (Last Orders) sets his eye on the mutterings and putterings of everyday English folk in his first story collection in nearly 30 years. Spanning the time of the English Civil War in the mid-17th century to the present day, each of the 25 vignettes explores a simple theme—divorce and separation, death and grief, lust and longing—in unadorned prose and in just a few pages. “Remember This” has a young man penning a love note to his new wife after a day spent signing their wills; the undelivered letter has an unintended effect on their relationship. “Fusilli” finds a father stranded in a supermarket pasta aisle, mourning his soldier son’s death in Afghanistan. In “The Best Days,” a man at a funeral looks back at his first sexual encounter, with a school friend’s mother. Not all Swift’s choices are perfect—some, such as the widow’s preoccupation with washing her dead soldier husband’s shirt in “Was She the Only One,” or the old man’s remembrance of his dead wife after receiving a terminal cancer prognosis in “I Live Alone,” are heartbreakingly intimate, but others, such as the circular “Going Up in the World,” are underdeveloped at best. A uniting factor throughout is Swift’s strong sense of place and the idea that life can be transformed in a moment. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/02/2015 Release date: 05/19/2015 Genre: Fiction
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