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The twelve stories in Indelible Acts are variations on a theme of longing - the unassuagable human need for contact, for completion, for that most fugitive gift of all: reciprocal love. Its characters' lives are thwarted, dashed, impassioned, each in their own way immolated by hope. A queue outside a cheese shop leads to a thrilling infidelity; a crematorium funeral exposes a love gone sour; a foreign hotel room becomes a diorama of despair as physical sickness becomes a metaphor for incurable grief. In the title story, two lovers confront their lusts amid the ruins of Rome; in 'A Bad Son' a young boy from a damaged home searches for some kind of peace in the newly fallen snow.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099433484
ISBN-10: 0099433486
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 14mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Apr-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » This collection of 12 interlinked short stories features subtle variations on the theme of lust and longing. Each of the characters is lost and searching, with a sense of despair, for reciprocal love. Throughout the individual stories there is the sense of a longing for some elusive emotional experience, just beyond the characters' grasp. Emotions and physical sensations are described with exquisite sensitivity, in contrast to the bold and often brutal descriptions of sex. The stories have a dreamlike, fragmented quality, reflecting the unfulfilled lives they describe. A chance meeting in a cheese queue leads to a passionate liaison; a casual act of assault hints at a tantalising homosexual advance; and a boy from a violent home finds hope in the purity of the snow, believing it will cleanse him of guilt and fear. Perhaps the best story is 'Elsewhere', funny, beautifully descriptive and bitingly observant. Juney Morris, lost in a dead-end town, remains forever the misfit. She is wounded by brutal and idle observations and the harsh gossip that taints the lives of those around her. These cruel whisperings are blamed on the incessant wind of the region: 'it picks up every word and stirs what we tell each other around and sets it down where it doesn't belong exactly. But it gets a good home.' Juney's unlikely saviour comes in the homely figure of Margie. An essentially ordinary woman, her homespun wisdom and acute understanding reach Juney's lost soul. She offers sweets and kindness to this sour girl: 'For when bitter things happen - we do have to swallow them but we can at least sugar them up.' Enigmatic and often obscure, these stories do not make easy reading, but they offer an unforgettable glimpse into the depths of desire and loss. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - A. L. Kennedy

The author of six previous novels, two books of non-fiction, and five collections of short stories, A.L. Kennedy's last novel, Day, was the 2007 Costa Book of the Year. She has twice been selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists and has won a host of other awards. She lives in Glasgow and is a part-time lecturer in creative writing at Warwick University.

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