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, 11 October 2017

"Whoever you choose to love" by Colette Paul (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2004)

In "We Are Broken Things" a woman in an uncertain relationship with Clive, gets a call from a care home saying that the father she'd only once met had died. She visits, which reminds her of her previous visit to him when she was a teenager. This leads to memories of trying to build a friendship with her long-dead mother. Her return home reminds her of her return from that earlier visit, and then of returning from Univ after her first term having just split with a boyfriend. She can't contact Clive. I liked the story.

In "Here, This Tragedy" a single mother with handicapped child has met a nice man, but how will he react to meeting the child? Unsurprisingly he breaks it off, the twist being that he blames his difficulties with forging relationships.

In "Supernovas" a girl's taken to an observatory by her father plus his female friend Maya. She thinks something going on between Maya and her father. Her father's full of ideas but jobless. Her mother (arts degree) does menial work to bring money in. At the end Maya turns up to her father's birthday party with a boyfriend.

"Guidance" had too many conventional observations and an expected twist.

In "Kenny", June has left her partner, Kenny, 2 months before, taken their baby with her. She's depressed (like her mother had been), needs space. She says "It must be terrible to have a happy childhood. It doesn't prepare you for all the crap to come". Watching from her 9th floor window she thinks he sees a man run over by a train - "Then everything's exactly the same again. The sky arches on". Kenny pops in at that moment. There a reconciliation.

In "Connections" a girl who's about 15 unconvincingly thinks "The sky is brilliantine heartless blue ... I'm actually a very timorous person, afraid of almost everything life can throw up, seeing danger in its innocuous ephemera - traffic, fireworks, spiders, heights, drunks, football matches, parks, cats, maths, quizzes" (p.97). As a summer job she works in a coathanger factory. Mavis who works there has "got an alcoholic husband and says she keeps a frozen leg of lamb in the freezer to wallop him with when he comes home drunk. She says it's called aversion therapy, although it's not worked so far. Now he's verse to coming home and stays in the pub all night instead". I like the final few pages, where she goes to a party and tries to pick up a guy who reads Rilke.

In "Renaissance" a girl with an alcoholic father (a doctor mind you) and a mother you thinks she could have done better struggles to have friends, which hurts when her mother leaves.

"O Tell Me The Truth About Love!" features a 14 year-old girl who likes being the confidante of her older sister, and is jealous when she goes to live with her (not very impressive) boyfriend.

Overall, I liked the book. The stories had interesting details even if the situations became samey. Bedsit land. Fastfood jobs. Schoolgirls. Weight issues. Luke-warm relationships. People interrupted from trying to find themselves by a change of circumstances. People with arts degrees unemployed or doing low-wage jobs waiting for something better to turn up. Lives changing in a moment.

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