Short stories intimidate me.
I never know quite how to write about them. And sometimes I don’t quite know how to read them either. I often want to hop from one story to another, but that doesn’t quite allow ample absorption of each individual story. And with this great collection of stories, you don’t want to rush it.
Hadley is a master of the every day, but with a hint of something a little darker. These are things that could be happening to someone out there, every day. An 18-year-old wants to marry her professor, a husband drops dead in his home, a flight is delayed, a young couple meet each other’s families for the first time, a girl tries to get over her brother’s suicide. There are relationships that are broken, starting anew, romantic – in all their intensity and complexity.
Hadley brings the reader’s attention to the details, such as in title track Married Love:
“A squall of rain urged against the steamed-up windowpanes, the kettle boiled, toast sprang from the toaster for no one in particular. Vaguely, they all looked at her, thinking their own thoughts. Lottie emanated intensity; her personality was like a demon trapped inside a space too small. Even as a baby she had been preternaturally perceptive and judgmental. Her talent for the violin, when it was discovered, had seemed an explanation for her surplus strength, or a solution to it; she had begun on an instrument so tiny that it looked like a Christmas-tree decoration. Now she was living with her parents while she studied for her music degree at the university.”
She takes us into the heart of their lives, their homes, tells us their stories, and then backs away, leaving the reader with an image to remember, that doesn’t necessarily resolve the situation, if indeed there is a situation to resolve, but is nevertheless striking and full of impact, like in A Mouthful of Cut Glass, where the girls throw apples at the window: “standing out in the grey daylight as he watched them, hurling all the apples at him, one after another, until they reached a layer of impossibly mushy ones at the very bottom of the bucket”.
In an interview with NPR News, Hadley explained:
“It’s the twists and turning and unexpected bit that leads off to the left when you thought you were going right and then the dead end. And that’s what I love to follow.”
With this collection of subtle, layered stories, Hadley has definitely captured this reader’s attention. And I’d gladly follow her writing anywhere.
“The fiction writer’s ambition is modest and overweening: to take the imprint of the passing moment, capture it in the right words, keep it for the future to read.”
Tessa Hadley’s works
2011 The London Train
2007 The Master Bedroom
2007 Sunstroke and other stories
2003 Everything Will Be All Right
2002 Henry James and the Imagination of Pleasure
2002 Accidents in the Home
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour stops:
Tuesday, November 20th: Unabridged Chick
Monday, November 26th: Olduvai Reds
Tuesday, November 27th: Sweet Tidbits
Thursday, November 29th: Walking With Nora
Monday, December 3rd: BookNAround
Tuesday, December 4th: Kind of a Mess
Wednesday, December 5th: In the Next Room
Thursday, December 6th: What She Read…
Wednesday, December 12th: The Betty and Boo Chronicles
Thursday, December 13th: A Patchwork of Books
Monday, December 17th: Eclectic/Eccentric