Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

"Day" by A.L. Kennedy (Vintage, 2008)

An extra in a PoW film flashes back to his bookshop job, war action, love and home. Early on we're teasingly told about Joyce and his murdered father. It's not until p.196 that sex and death details fully emerge. The style's full of interjections and alternations. Here's a fragment from p.2, showing how the style approaches stream-of-consciousness

'Hello, looks like London Fog again.'
Pluckrose had started them calling it London Fog: the Thames smoke haze in the briefing room - him first and then everybody. One of the things they had between them as a crew: 'London Fog again.'
But he wouldn't remember Pluckrose, wasn't going to ask him in.
Chop it. All right?
And this time I mean it. All right?

So the noise throttled back, obedient, let him be where he was.
Not that he was any too clear about that - his precise location - beyond the fact that he was sitting, sitting behind a young moustache.

On p.11 it flicks into 2nd-person. Then again on p.27. By p.45 we're back in the 3rd person, a more distanced one

The back door was open and the smell of their last roses coming in and a wedge of sunshine fallen down into the hall with the cat lying in it and purring, you could tell by the set of his head before you even heard a sound.

(the 'you' in this extract is confusing though). This changing of PoVs lets the intimacy of the narrator to the subject vary. Sometimes the words are the author's even if the thoughts are the character's

Cover's too thick, visibility zero. Good to keep inside it, cosy - but you'll never see the target. Hit'em with dead reckoning and guesswork - what a way to fight a war.
But it's not so bad.
The kick when the bombs are gone, the airframe jumping up in the love of it, the last spring in her lifting under you, flexing - bombs tumbling, diving to nothing, swallowed, a pale bloom spreading here and there, flushing the haze, but inconclusive.
'That's another field of Nazi cows gone west, then.' Pluckrose - always sounds younger on the intercom and very far away. (p.156)

It's nothing like her short-stories that I've read. I'm impressed.

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