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An account from the inside of a mind cracking up...its writing is as taut as a bowstring. From brilliant title to closing injunction, it hums with intelligence, clarity, wit; and, its heroine's struggle for order and meaning seduces our minds, exposes how close we all of us are to insanity. Joy, as Galloway's heroine reluctantly lets us know that she's called, is simply that dangerous step or two nearer the edge' LISTENER.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780749391737
ISBN-10: 0749391731
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 16mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 7-Mar-1991
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » A superbly rendered first-person narrative about a depressed woman who may or may not be getting better, this novel was first published in Scotland and shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award. Galloway's sheaf of stories, Blood (1991), was seen here as bleak, powerful, uneven. Here, Galloway all but drowns herself in her scrambled heroine, Joy Stone, a 27-year-old drama teacher who lives outside Glasgow with trembling nerves and a superfine sensitivity to all shades of overcast. Be warned, Galloway's lyric psychological realism is as dense as Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, her page an inventive litter of relentless subjectivity. Joy Stone is not the manic-depressive her name implies; she's just depressed and locked into endless black chat with herself as she reads horoscopes and letters to an advice columnist ("Dear Kathy, Please help me..."). She obsessively cleans her living room, prepares tea and biscuits for a visit from a health visitor from the social service that pays her rent (the overweight health visitor seems as depressed as Joy), goes through her skin-sizzling bathing ritual, throws out fresh food she finds viscous as plasma, uses nail-scissors to keep her pubic hair neat, perfumes between her toes, skips work often, refuses to talk with her psychiatrist about the accidental drowning of her lover and retreats inward. ("Tears drained backwards into my ears. I was floating up toward the ceiling, inflating with something like love: serene and distant as the Virgin Mary, radiating truth from the halo of stars round my head. I knew so much"). The end: midnight whisky-pictures of Joy as a mermaid in black waves. A woman with more problems than you, dreadfully well done. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Janice Galloway

Janice Galloway was born in Ayrshire in 1956. She has worked in a variety of paid and unpaid jobs but has mostly been a teacher. Since 1987 when her first story was published, she has become known for her fiction. Her novel The Trick is to Keep Breathing was published in Polygon in 1990. A collection of short stories follows from Secker & Warburg in 1991. She likes cities and lives in Glasgow.

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