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Day [Hardcover]

A. L. Kennedy

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2007

In 1939, Alfred Day had wanted war. And when he got it, he found purpose in its turmoil: he found his proper role as tail-gunner in a Lancaster bomber; he found the wild, dark fellowship of his crew; and -- most extraordinary of all -- he found Joyce, a woman to love. But now, that's all gone: the war took it away. And maybe the war has taken him away, too.

Before Hitler and the bombs, Alfred was a boy in Staffordshire, helpless to defend his mother and resist his abusive father. The RAF gave him order, skills, another family, a way to be a man. It taught him how to burn through lifetimes on night ops and brief, sweet leaves, surviving. But it didn't prepare him for capture, for prison camp and chaos as the war wound down. And it certainly didn't prepare him for an empty peace. So, in 1949, Alfred winds back time to see where he lost himself as an extra in a POW film -- and begins to do what he's never dared -- to remember.

In Day, A. L. Kennedy has crafted a superb novel about the brutal simplicities of war and the complexities of human emotion. Above all, Day is wonderful storytelling: the freight of history and humanity carried effortlessly by the beauty of the writing.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: ISIS Large Print Books; Large Print edition edition (Sept. 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753178788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753178782
  • Shipping Weight: 789 g

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Kennedy's contemplative, stylized sixth novel (after Paradise) follows former Royal Air Force tail gunner Alfred Day as he relives his experiences in a WWII German prison camp. It's 1949, and the diminutive but sparky Alfred, now in his mid-20s, is unraveling without the peculiar sense of purpose and dread the war had instilled in him, and without the crew he'd befriended. He volunteers as an extra on the set of a war documentary, hoping to regain precious lost camaraderie, but instead teeters on the edge of total breakdown. Flashbacks abound, detailing Alfred's turbulent childhood with an abusive, alcoholic father. The film set experience grows darker as Alfred begins reliving his time in the prison camp, and the roots of his growing anger and depression are exposed. Kennedy is known for her language and methodical sentence structure, and this dexterity sparkles in her narration, which includes Alfred's interior thoughts (offset in italics) as well as ingenious forays into the second person (where he's presumably talking to himself). It takes getting used to, but adds texture and intimacy to this timely story about the detrimental effects of war on a good man.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


First rate: sensual, vivid, excoriating. (Toronto Star 2007-10-01)

Kennedy is a brilliant writer...[Day] juggles its time schemes and plotlines...with dexterity. (Financial Times 2007-03-03)

Kennedy is one of the finest stylists writing in English, and the reader is constantly delighted by sardonic asides and plainly wonderful sentences...Day is a forceful wholly achieved piece of work by a writer of enormous power. (National Post 2007-10-01)

Kennedy's timely and insightful novel is thoroughly engaging, a vivid exploration of the repercussions of war in one man's slow unravelling. Solid. (Now Magazine 2007-10-01)

This is a remarkably clean-lined book, of highly literary construction, that still feels huge and wide-ranging. Kennedy is very good indeed at voices and details...Day is a forceful, wholly achieved piece of work by a writer of enormous power. It ought to win all the prizes going. (Daily Telegraph 2007-10-01)

Kennedy's contemplative, stylized sixth novel...adds texture and intimacy to this timely story about the detrimental effects of war on a good man. (Publishers Weekly 2007-10-01) exceptional feat of research and an astonishing effort of the imagination...both terrifying and hilarious. (Costa Book of the Year Award jury citation 2007-10-01) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discomforting yet intoxicating read Feb. 19 2008
By Nilly Essaides - Published on
The one and only negative thing I can write about "Day" is that it took me over 30 pages to get fully "oriented"; and while perhaps this device was likely deployed purposefully by the author to communicate the very-same disorientation on the part of the lead character (for him too, time and space have blurred), it was overdone and prevented me from getting pulled in more quickly.

Yet, once I knew where I was in time and space, the book was impossible to put down. I have nothing in common with the leading man, a WWII veteran and RAF gunner. Yet I felt I got into his head; no, more to the point, he got into mine. The result was a combination of discomfort and exhilaration. The story is not one that's easy to swallow and some of the elements are disturbing and visually (for those like me who visualize the story) gory yet appropriate for the war and the period.

The Economist in its review, noted no one would ever tell the author is a woman. I agree. What makes this spell binding is that the man through whose eyes we see the war and understand its emotional aftermath (and largely futile nature) is both insane and aware of his insanity, he examines the loss of his humanity yet is still very human, in love and angry. The writing touched me like very few books have, and I read voraciously so I can speak with some confidence on this.

Anyone with a faint interest in the WWII period, or the human psyche, would want to read this book.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What's it all about, Alfie? Jan. 15 2008
By Keith D. Gumery - Published on
Let me state first of all that I admired Alison Kennedy enormously, and that I have been reading her avidly since "Original Bliss" (which still shakes me up when I reread it and teach it). I was full of hopes for "Day", which at the time of writing has only just been published in the US. I was fortunate enough to get a copy from my UK friends for Christmas.

I was sorely disappointed. I think that such an intimate view of a central protagonist - especially one that becomes "you" hence "us" given the constant slipping into the second person mode of telling - really relies on us being interested in that person, or by finding them singular. As soon as we start to resist the direction given to "you" as a reader, it makes the writer's task doubly difficult. Frankly, Alfie Day as a personality or character didn't carry any interest for me. Instead, I became distracted by the research that Kennedy had clearly carried out into the era, and I found myself ticking off things that she had discovered and placed into the narrative to add authenticity. It is hard to get research into this kind of novel so that it seems organic and part of the work, and not a collection of interesting found materials. If the centre of the novel is Alfie, why this world to set him in? It seems an odd choice for "Day" to be set in WWII - not because the events of that time have lost relevance or importance, but because Alfie might have meant more to us had be been in Iraq, Afghanistan, or even the Falklands.

Kennedy's prose sparkles as usual, but for me it alone can't carry the novel, because the characters and narrative it serves for once don't match it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Day" Is Beyond Masterful Oct. 15 2009
By Walter H. Kuenstler - Published on
I am an airplane nut. This might be the most evocative paragraph I have read regarding the magic and mystery that only airplane nuts feel.

"Circling in from the north-west came a single Lanc, big-chinned, blunt as a whale and open armed and singing. When you heard them like that, far off, you could think they were trying to speak, words hidden underneath the roar, and if you could only work the out, you would understand everything, ou would be saved. "

DayDay (Vintage Contemporaries) is a love story. The love of a WWII Lancaster crewman for his captain and crew; his love of a woman; his love of combat.

Day is the story of hate. His hatred for an abusive father. Hatred of those who bring tyranny over the innocent.

Author A.L. Kennedy brings us Alfred Day the character. His tale dances across time, interweaving an authentic captivity with a staged reinactment offering Day a second chance to untangle the cords of his war.

Read this book. Please.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Walking Wounded July 15 2008
By Juliet Waldron - Published on
Alfie Day has been an RAF tail gunner and a starved and beaten POW. The sole survivor of his bomber crew, five years have passed, but he remains one of the millions of walking wounded, living in the scarcity and devastation of post-war Britain. A fishmonger's battered son, he'd half hoped the war would end a life he'd been taught was worthless. Now he struggles with survivors' guilt and a swarm of stabbing memories, bright with the hyper reality of childhood abuse and twenty-nine night bombing missions. The author's elegant prose carries the reader past the near dumb shows of Day's conversation, deep into the clear, always swirling eddies of his thought. This is a man who knows far more than he shows, who processes the violence he's endured. Hoping to find his way out of a paralyzing numbness, he travels to Germany to take part in a movie set in a POW camp. Here the Past, both in memory and in the form of an escaped SS man, confront him. He remembers, hopelessly, the few moments of tenderness in his life, a war time affair with a married woman. Occasionally Day's stream of consciousness left me behind, but the exquisite precision of the writing brought an emotional punch to each and every scene. DAY gives the reader World War ll warts and all, without pieties or flag-waving. Ms. Kennedy, who has won prestigious awards for earlier works, again demonstrates a humbling mastery of her art.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what one would expect March 28 2008
By M. Flynn - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is mainly an exploration of the character of the protagonist, Alfie Day. It moves around from pre to mid to post WW II. Book contains a fair amount of stream of consciousness, mixed freely and expertly with plot.

As a result of its construction, the book requires slow, thorough reading, which led to its not being what I expected. A wonderful, really thought-provoking read that I highly recommend.

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