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Indelible Acts: Stories [Paperback]

A. L. Kennedy

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Book Description

Aug. 10 2004 Vintage Contemporaries
The love story (as well as the story of love lost, obsessed over, or longed for) gets a complete and thrilling renovation at the hands of the most virtuosic literary stylist to appear in the British Isles since Jeanette Winterson. A. L. Kennedy’s men and women huddle in foreign hotel rooms, immobilized by travel-sickness and betrayal. They plan seductions on the line at a cheese shop. They’re undone by a passing embrace in the office men’s room. Their passion is so urgent and imperious that it invades the stories they tell their children.

By turns chaste and ferociously sexy, funny and unbearably sad, every story in Indelible Acts is a testament to the lengths to which desire drives us. And all are marked by Kennedy’s wisdom and humanity, and language that captures the briefest tremor of the infatuated heart.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (Aug. 10 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400033454
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400033454
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 13.1 x 20.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 200 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,510,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Booklist

Thematically connected by issues of sexuality, identity, rejection, and acceptance, Kennedy's 12 luminous stories are marvels of emotional intensity, made all the more so by being told, for the most part, from the male point of view, though not in a heavy-handed, macho fashion. Indeed, it is this sort of narrative androgyny that makes her characters' nearly genderless neutrality both satisfying and surprising. Limning the depths of palpable despair, they are equally capable of soaring with mercurial bravado, often working within the confines of relationships that display varying degrees of sexual dysfunction. Some pulsate with a subtle undercurrent of perversion or violence, such as implied acts of rape or explicit acts of homosexuality. Others plumb issues that are disturbingly immoral or, at the very least, inappropriate: adultery, or the breakup of a love affair. Nearly all flirt with, or are flummoxed by, a fatalistic need to lose oneself inside another person, as if searching there for an identity they are unable to find within themselves. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“The best stories here are exacting in tone and compassionate, delivering ornery or wretched characters with equanimity and grace” –The Boston Globe

“Brilliantly moving. . . . As stark and incisive as an X-ray negative of bones and joints.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“A world class fiction writer.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Kennedy is adept at creating the texture of desire. . . . One of the bright young stars among contemporary British writers.” —San Jose Mercury News

“Randy, crabby and dangerous to read . . . Kennedy is a master of the whomping good phrase.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lack of Love Proves to be Indelible Jan. 27 2005
By Bohdan Kot - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A.L. Kennedy, a prized Scottish fiction writer, brings us from across the pond, "Indelible Acts," a short-story collection filled with satisfying tales - her first to be published in the States. The unnamed narrator in "Not Anything to Do with Love" summons up the theme of the slim book with her notion of an ex-boyfriend, "There would be tenderness, but the kind you only feel when there's a bruise."

Kennedy explores what individuals will do when love is absent - adultery runs prominently as an inadequate fix. Thankfully, humor is sporadically present within the pages of heartache, thus keeping the pieces from becoming a veritable mine of depressive rants. Inner dialog also propels the stories with ease; it allows the reader to be aware of the painful disparity between outer and inner reality.

In "A Little like Light," John Edward feels stuck in a dismal marriage and an unrewarding job as a school janitor. He thinks of himself as an actor playing out a role for both his family and work. The only moments of solace he has are his thoughts: "The best love is a little like light. It is unremitting, cannot fail to find you, to take the shortest, surest way, as if that were marked out as part of your nature, the line where you and love are made to meet." The school's new teacher, Elizabeth Harrison, does find Edward, but he does nothing to pursue the new relationship despite his interest or take action to repair his failing marriage.

Edward, like Kennedy's other characters, is unable to make decisions that could improve life and love. However, hope for change does brim in "How to Find Your Way in Woods." Sarah invites her ex-boyfriend David for a holiday trip, but regrets the invitation once he arrives. Later she is able to walk away from him and says, "We didn't work, David."

Bohdan Kot
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Plotless, but excellent writing July 6 2006
By Glen Engel Cox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I picked this up on the recommendation of a travel guide book, as an example of good writing by a Scottish author. The writing is very good, but the Scottish nature of these stories is near to non-existent. What connects these stories together is their theme of adultery, a theme that is fairly common to mainstream literature these days (I've an aunt-in-law who used to complain that it was a criteria for Oprah's Book Club), but one that I had heretofore avoided in my own reading diet. Unfortunately, the saliciousness of these short stories was fairly mild, and while I found Kennedy's writing quite admirably, at the end of each story I found myself saying, "So what," a common complaint I have with modern short stories, which tend to be heavy in style and character and light in plot or substance. I did end up reading every story, so that's something of a recommendation, in the sense that if plot isn't necessary for you, you might find this book quite worthwhile.

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