It's Beginning To Hurt by James Lasdun

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It's Beginning To Hurt by James Lasdun

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Laura Bailey
Reviewed by Laura Bailey
Summary: National Short Story Award winner James Lasdun presents his third collection of short stories. These stories are all brilliantly written and worth savouring.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: April 2010
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099512325

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It's Beginning to Hurt is a collection of sixteen short stories, all bound together by the theme of hurt in various forms. It is James Lasdun's third collection of short stories and, chances are, if you are a fan of the short story then you will have read something by him before.

Lasdun writes in a very natural way and with the kind of ease that is the sign of a talented writer. His metaphors and similes are often beautiful and show his keen observation of the characters he brings to life. His writing is full of these kinds of observations, written in such a skilful way that the reader is able to understand the feelings of his characters certainly and intimately, and with the same kind of effortlessness which the author displays in revealing them.

This collection includes the story An Anxious Man which won the BBC National Short Story Award in 2006. An Anxious Man tells the story of a man caught up in the rise and fall of the stock market and unable to enjoy anything, including his annual family holiday. But when his daughter disappears he begins to rethink what is important to him. This is one of those stories that stays with you after you have read it and causes you to revaluate what is important to you.

My favourite story in the collection was probably either Cranley Meadows or Peter Kahn's Third Wife (which I had read before). Cranley Meadows tells the story of an out-of-work astronomy lecturer and his ex-student wife. The prose in this story is particularly lyrical and the highly symbolic single setting creates a kind of dystopian springboard for the characters. This story also has a blink and you'll miss it ending, in a wonderful display of cleverly subtle writing that emphasises the subject matter.

I really enjoyed reading this collection, each story kept me interested and, for the most part, the endings came as a complete, but wonderfully poignant, surprise. Each story, despite the binding theme, has a very different feel and stood out on its own, without a single story seeming to jar with the rest, which is the sign of a great collection.

Although, as the title suggests, these are not the kind of stories to read if you are in need of cheering up, they are perfect for the literary connoisseur, or anyone who enjoys a well-written tale. I always think that short stories are ideal for reading on the bus or train, perfect for the busy person; you can usually finish a whole story in one sitting and not have to worry about forgetting the plot line or losing your place. This perhaps works better than reading them all in one go anyway, these kinds of stories, although each has a strong sense of individuality, can risk being underappreciated if not taken one at a time. I reading the entire book in about three sittings and I regret it.

This is the sort of collection that readers will return to, which is why I think it is definitely worth buying. I am looking forward to going back and reading this book again, one story at a time.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: If you are a fan of the literary short story then you should try reading Our Story Begins by Tobias Wolff.

Buy It's Beginning To Hurt by James Lasdun at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy It's Beginning To Hurt by James Lasdun at Amazon.co.uk


Buy It's Beginning To Hurt by James Lasdun at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy It's Beginning To Hurt by James Lasdun at Amazon.com.

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