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All the Rage 

By A.L. Kennedy (Anansi)

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This new collection of short stories from UK writer A.L. Kennedy will probably make you sad. All of its characters are in love in ways that are bad for them, and they are all painfully aware of it. In the title story, a man waits for a train with his wife and recalls his years of infidelity, which she knows about, which they’ve worked through, sort of. In another story, an older man has a pitiful affair with his housekeeper. He remarks that he has “no idea what she actually speaks, what her language is.” Kennedy is showing us people who, for reasons sometimes obvious, sometimes oblique, are unable to find a common language in love. The writing is funny and unusual and so very British. There are shags and knickers all over the place. But what Kennedy does best here is show how such a range of individual characters can share a similar sort of loneliness.

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