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Every Short Story (1951-2012) by Alasdair Gray
WORK AS IF YOU LIVE IN THE EARLY DAYS OF A BETTER WORLD
Canongate Books Ltd 2012 – 934 pages

MY GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEW OF THIS BOOK (CONTINUED FROM HERE) WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE COMMENT STREAM BELOW AS AND WHEN I READ IT:-

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16 responses to “*

  1. I forgot to mention that the writer in the previous story is also linked by birth to the rivets of the quiet people’s boiler room and electric wiring so forth regarding what was earlier called the ‘casualty class’ and that in turn literally by casualty’s bodily hurt and deliberate outrage by pleasurable (?) discipline brings us to the next story, as well as to a class in a school with cane and headmistress…

    Class Party
    “She knows that willing a clock to go faster is the worst way to pass the time, but cannot stop straining to see movement in the hour and minute hands while seeing nothing but torture in the slowly sweeping second hand.”
    …where we reach the culmination of the earlier story of June and her physical and emotional and proprietorial despoilment by Senga and Donalda in her own flat. It is as the asterisks are the new electric current as well as a reference to the typographical tricks of ‘Tristram Shandy’ the whole of which I real-time reviewed here as a book of anti-Natalism, digression as a form of delaying time’s clockhands towards death and of personal grooming toward a sexual end as now happens on the Internet… Grooming as a historical challenge and response that this book is ineluctably becoming, and if this author is endeavouring to have his way with us, the time has finally come to have our way with him!! Irony.

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  2. New June
    “The tone of men signalling that they want to f**k her, and that they wouldn’t f**k her with a ten-foot pole if they were paid a pension, sound much the same.”
    …and so with this book, too, regarding its attitude to the humanity who might be reading it? Reading a fiction and writing that fiction as a sort of sexual or SM relationship, as well as an intellectual one?
    Meanwhile, this story is a tidying up of June after the sexual fracas in her flat, and the residual raging sexual desires including that of Harriet Shetland (Harry) whom Miss Cane turns out to be – and I hope that is a not a plot spoila!
    Money seems a big determiner in this book and maybe its writer who will die sooner or later needs to be protected by money to ease that process of dying? Quantitative easing.

  3. Postscript
    “Her office job prevents loneliness and earns money,…”
    More tidying up of June or she tidies herself up into the sexually awakened woman she now is (Harry’s absence in her story now and the story’s ending is controlled however by the intrusive author coming out) and her civil service colleagues and the office politics are shellshocked – and Thatcha’s monetarism and Scottish independence sort of become a satirical butt in the form of an ex cabinet minister who fancies June and is all mouth and trousers…
    The quiet people / electric wirers / boiler room attendants, meanwhile, I guess, suffer under Thatcha’s high heels that June felt as pleasure in her flat.
    And there we probably leave June forever thanks to the now intrusive author.

  4. Getting Started – A Prologue
    A pithy story that is just the testing of first lines for some novel, but they are not all pithy ones. Pity.

  5. Houses and Small Labour Parties
    “During the recent war (which had ended seven years before but still seemed recent to all who remembered it) the government had promised there would be no return to unemployment afterward, and every family would eventually have a house with a lavatory and bath inside.”
    Around the time I was 4 years old, then. An effective portrait of more (albeit noisy) ‘quiet people’, who are here navvies with their stoic acceptance of life and work – and their cussing camaraderie – and two among them: the oldest and youngest who are given a gardening job at the boss’s posh house in a posh area. The inevitability of fate and what we can see already as their future that is now the past. And their natural innocent goodness and the young one’s too literal potential pursuance of the old one’s dictum: “A neglected tool is a wasted tool” makes one smile yet fear for his fate and any misunderstandings. A resonance that lingers on like in a VS Pritchett story?

  6. Homeward Bound
    “Lilian thinks hard and eventually says, ‘We went a walk last Sunday and he said, The countryside looks very green today but I suppose that’s what it’s there for.’
    ‘He was quoting me,’ says Vlasta with satisfaction, ‘And I got it from a book.'”

    Young Lilian and older Vlasta accidentally turn up together at Alan’s door and realise they are both sexual role-playmates of Alan… Hilarious conversation where both women band together against him and, if I read the ending correctly, with him, too! And he is a meticulous collector, and one of his prize possessions (a clay ornament by Shanks) is accidentally smashed – another accident waiting to happen … and we wonder who he cares for most: his possessions or his women or himself…?
    I wonder if the smashed Shanks ornament was of a white dog…?

  7. Loss of the Golden Silence
    “This a room to lodge, not to live in, unless your thoughts are often elsewhere.”
    A newly living-together couple whose backstories (or case histories, as this story has it) are as frustrating as this relationship’s frontstory with its mystery and silence they have brought to this ill-matched scenario, albeit a scenario that can be very creative – on the quiet.
    Each affair destined to become a sort of forgotten bespoke ‘great bear cult’ except here it’s often a pet cat not a bear.

  8. You
    “He says, ‘I feel there’s a lot of aggro going on under our jolly surfaces here. Do you?’
    Agree.”

    A strobing between a Molly’s Monologue type of confessional through ‘you’, the female ‘me’, and an extrapolation of the motivation of a man from a quite different class to ‘yours’, having met at the interface of two polar opposite tribes at a wedding reception, the groom’s tribe (posh) and the bridegroom’s (with designer rips in their jeans). And having met, the pent up undercurrents, in his case his hairtrigger temper, in her case a desire to objectify by a youness… Leading to that physical ‘surface’ textual centring with which each of this book’s stories ends, a resonance that lingers, with on each side of the line a gap.

  9. Internal Memorandum
    The realistic tone of frustration from an employee to another in the chain of command of a large established family firm about health & safety matters – and of the writer’s accretive ‘reading of the runes’ regarding the firm’s future prospects, bearing in mind the personalities involved, aptly ends, too, with the textual centring…
    Another ‘a neglected tool is a wasted tool’ tailing off into imagined repercussions.

  10. A New World
    A fantasy fable where the moral is: more space, less room for God.

  11. Are You A Lesbian?
    “Yes, I feel less lonely among people who are quietly talking and drinking — as long as they don’t talk to me or lay their hand on my thigh.”
    I feel that way sitting outside a book but reading inside it, especially a book with no indents to start off its paragraphs.
    What I read here is confessional ‘pub talk’ or the preaching of religious missionaries coming in and pestering those holding private conversations.

  12. The Trendelenburg Position
    A dentist in the past chatters to a lady patient as if he is a barber, mostly with the topic of Virtual Reality trending and he inadvertently predicts today’s internet teaching instead of real-life schools.
    There is a strange, (un)deliberate dis-alignment of the book’s textual lines as he tilts her into the dental position. And there’s a virtual reality hat.

  13. These last two stories are both totally amazing in my view…

  14. There are so many riches in this book, Rhys, and I feel guilty sometimes that I am not doing justice to each and every one of them.

    Time Travel
    “It is enough for me to passively enjoy the play of natural coincidences and actively enjoy the play of inward speculation.”
    …and to enjoy this slightly sad but inspiring portrait of a man’s feisty non-linear thoughts embedded within philosophical synaesthesia; he is ageing under a dead language he transcends with ‘duvay’ instead of quilt, as he also fathoms with some creative logic, annotated for us, on how some chewing-gum could have possibly got between his toes, give or take the odd female carer with or without name, even, these days, with or without life itself.
    This book is full of inferred furniture that resonates with both soul and matter – probably built by ‘quiet people’ under Thatcher’s heels, or through the challenge and response of some other historical era, and here is no exception.

  15. This Real-Time Review Continues HERE.

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