Why Don't You Stop Talking: Stories - Jackie KayPicador, 2003, Paperback ..
Condition: Very Good
Fear, fantasy, loneliness and desire are the themes of Jackie Kay's debut collection of short stories, Why Don't You Stop Talking. Brian the fitter in "Shark! Shark!" has a hysterical fear of sharks that dominates his life. In "Big Milk" a woman's passionate jealousy of her lesbian lover's relationship with her baby forces her to revisit her own childhood. Kay has a particular talent for describing the physical manifestations of psychological troubles. In "The woman with knife and fork disorder" the breakdown of the ability to organise cutlery stands in for a woman's mental dissolution in response to sudden abandonment by her husband, while in the Kafkaesque "Shell", a stoical, isolated single mother turns slowly and painfully into a tortoise. If you want to see what happens when the stylistic resonances of Borges and Gogol meet impeccable feminism, this is it. Many of these stories mediate an uncertain boundary between the literal and the metaphorical, and much of their pleasure and challenge lies in this ambivalence. Kay's poetic voice is well suited to the short story form. This is the Jackie Kay of The Adoption Papers and Off Colour: serious, redemptive, forcing the consumer-sanitised reader to recognise the truly impoverished, traumatised reality around them. The heart-aching "In between talking about the elephant" is a particularly brilliant example of how fantasy enables people to survive the banal inevitability of the ordinary experience of death. Kay is good on the troubled relationships between teenagers and their parents and there are a number of lighter and energetically comical stories that add levity to the otherwise twilight tone of this collection. Why Don't You Stop Talking is a memorable collection about the pathology of everyday life. Through these stories, Kay fundamentally challenges and renders suspicious the notion that there are such beings as untroubled, ordinary people.--Rachel Holmes 200pp.
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