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.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

"Tell her you love her" by Bridget O'Connor (Picador, 1977)

15 stories, 10-20 pages long. Several of the first-person characters are unsuccessful with the opposite sex, trying various schemes to improve their chances. They usually have shop/office jobs. They express themselves in out-of-character ways when it suits the author, e.g. "A great sprawl of burnt bathing-beauty sky. It goes pink and gold plated. Navy blue. Where else would a girl want to live? The stars come out like silver blinking crosses. Pubs dot it. Cars clog it. In winter, black limbless trunks wrist up it. In summer, leafy branches splash right across it" (p.4). In general, unhappy people have a chance but it goes wrong at the end. Within this mood there's reasonable variation. Sometimes (e.g. "Nerve Endings") the stories were too programmatic. Sometimes (e.g. "Enquiries (General)") the ending was too tame. "Hearts", "Hard Times" and "There Will Always Be a Felicity" didn't work for me. There were enough interesting pieces to make me keep reading -

  • In "Lenka's Wardrobe", Eve's new flatmate dies in an accident. Eve finds clothes and diamonds in her room, uses them to start a new life.
  • In "Tell her you love her" the main male character is coached by Ron through a relationship. He ends up in bed with his girlfriend, but thinks about Ron at the crucial moment.
  • In "Remission" a woman makes a career of surviving cancer. Her husband planed to benefit from her death, and plots to get her murdered. After he dies of a heart attack, she discovers that she's been misdiagnosed. A predictable end.
  • In "Plastered" a hapless guy finds that being injured gains him sympathy with fellow workers and some women. He over-exploits the opportunity and also tries to stay injured.
  • "Heavy Petting" is the longest and perhaps the best of the stories. Pets (specially a goldfish) reflect the family situation (I prefer David Means' goldfish story). There's a mad mother and a druggy/clubby older sister.


  1. Dear Tim

    Your literary tastes are certainly eclectic! The 'Remission' story reminded me of Clive James for some reason. I have recently republished my 'Homage To Edward Lear' with Amazon Kindle.

    Best wishes from Simon R.Gladdish

    1. Eclectic because I browse in 2nd hand bookshops, and we have some good ones nearby. The local Amnesty International bookshop was selling off lots of books cheaply prior to relocating, so I bought more than usual.