The Beautiful Indifference Paperback – 5 Jul 2012
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'Seven skilfully adrenalised stories, precise and sensual, in which the scent of violence is a constant.' -- Helen Simpson, Guardian Books of the Year
'Reaches a standard that makes award juries sit up and take note . . . Hall's voice is strong and distinctive even, in single, elevated passages, exquisite.' -- Lionel Shriver, Financial Times
'Shows her characteristic ability to cause disquiet ... Hall's sharply perceptive observations strike like slaps ... There is a deeply sensual element to her writing: it is visceral and instinctive ... It's like sinking into a Rothko painting. Language is used inventively. These are stimulating, unsettling stories... [they] intrigue and mesmerise.' -- Independent on Sunday
'Hall evokes her landscapes with bewitchingly vivid prose. Her writing is gutteral and visceral, and her characters are raw and sinewy ... Every one of the seven tales here delights and disturbs in equal measure. The Beautiful Indifference illustrates that short fiction is indeed a finely wrought art form, and Hall is an artist of considerable and concise skill. Each story is a gem, but together they form a collection of astonishingly sensuous power ... Hall is a writer of both rare vision and talent.' -- Sunday Times
'These stories constantly thwart one's dramatic expectations - and are all the more dramatic for it ... This prose, particularly when used to convey the bleakness of the Cumbrian landscape, is wonderful ... She does darkness so very well.' -- The Times
'Sarah Hall's four novels have already shown her to be a writer of extraordinary talents, whether in the rough magic of The Carhullan Army, about female resistance in a near-future police state, or the passionate intertwined narratives of art and identity that make up the Booker-longlisted How to Paint a Dead Man. With her first short-story collection, her writing takes another leap forward, into a landscape entirely her own ....The erotic charge of Hall's writing, its fierce physical power, coexists with her characters' sense of separation: each is a world entire, and they retain their depth, their mystery.' -- --Justine Jordan, Guardian
'Seven luscious, sensuous stories from one of our most talented writers, exploring the erotic, violent relationship between men and women in exquisite, painterly prose.' --Claire Allfree, Metro
'Sensual and striking prose, Hall is at her best capturing wild landscapes.' --Independent p>
'Monstrous events happen offstage over the course of these seven stories ... but their force is felt all the more powerfully through the precision of Hall's prose.' -- Guardian p>
'Immaculate collection ... [the characters'] inner monologues are articulate and precise, but the words seem to spring from the characters' raw emotional states rather than considered reflection after the fact, lending them immediacy along with shades of darkness and doubt.' --The Herald
'Sarah Hall's beautifully savage prose works so well because of her love of language . . . Hall's way with words gives[the stories] a brutal freshness that makes them feel new and urgent.' --Independent on Sunday
The Beautiful Indifference is a new collection of short stories by Booker-shortlisted author Sarah Hall.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
She is obviously a writer's writer.
Words are used precisely, carefully; now and then, over-preciously. She uses phrases like 'Benthic silence' and words like 'anomic'.
Her prose is serious, humourless, highly in tune with the natural world. Mink, dogs, horses, foxes, bees all feature heavily.
Her interests are in relationships, mostly between people like doctors, lawyers, academics, journalists and, I'm afraid to say, authors (though she does not write about work). The kind of people who go on holiday to slightly off beat places ( two of these stories are of the 'couple on trip get into trouble' ilk). This allows her to write sentences such as: 'She thought about the blue Arabia crockery they had seen in the antique market by the quay in Helsinki' and 'the air was heavy, greenly perfumed and the avian calls were loud and greasy.' (Greasy?)
These people's marriages have become loveless or mildly abusive. Her female protagonists run away from them or pay for the love they lack in plush hotels. It's hardly revolutionary, but it is exactly described.
Sex is an activity of the utmost earnestness: her protagonists suffer 'peculiar tearful euphoria in climax': 'the world before and after was incredibly vivid' she writes. 'The heat and the smell and closeness of him was peculiarly surrounding, amniotic. ' No one has the perfectly alright, occasional sex that sustains most relationships. Even the aged gypsy couple in the long, opening story, 'Butcher's Perfume' have unashamedly noisy couplings that turn the atmosphere 'gamier'.
The author writes little dialogue, much description.Read more ›
For me the stand out piece is the Vuotjärvi as the tension builds and builds to a nearly unbearable degree by the end.
There are all types of characters in these stories, from the utterly un-posh in Butcher's Perfume, for example, to some slightly more middle class figuers in some of the other stories. It is part of Hall's amazing artistry that she can deal with rough people and rough settings with such amazing artistry. I don't feel that it matters that characters in these stories are not watching 'the X-Factor', these are stories about all types of people that are told with love, skill, precision and artistry.
When I recommend Hall's work to friends, as I frequently do, I always tell them that here is a writer who is a true artist, not someone just writing some story. Buy this book!
Hall is good on suspense and best at leaving readers to speculate on `outcomes'. For instance, in the title story, the central character has three boxes of painkillers in her purse. Does Hall's throw-away sentence, `Her mother was the same age', indicate an intention to commit suicide? Another remark supports the idea: `What would they say about her attire, if they found her in the bracken'? The story's ending is highly suggestive: `The hills were around her. She took up her purse, opened the car door. It was like opening a book.' The pared-down style may shock readers already familiar with Hall as the lyrical novelist of `Haweswater', `The Electric Michelangelo' and `How to Paint a Dead Man'. In these stories, Hall's short staccato sentences work well. They are ideally suited to a literary genre where concise expression and suggested meaning are paramount.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read a review on @faberbooks (Instagram) and, being a huge lover of short stories, I just could not not read "The Beautiful Indifference". Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lola
Did not like this book at all. It was given as a read at my book group. Would not recommend to others.Published 7 months ago by Susan Buchanan
Absolutely amazing writing - beautifully crafted with such wonderful visual imagery and thought provoking situations - I want to read more from this author! Read morePublished 14 months ago by Briar Rose
'Butcher's Perfume' - the first in this anthology - was undoubtedly the most impactful short story I've ever read. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Sandra Davies
Spare and stylish prose... not a warm read but compulsively good.Published 17 months ago by Patricia Cade
I thought this was a great collection of stories. I really liked Hall’s style and her use of language. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Pamela Scott
I have not finished it yet but the stories are most thought provoking, specially, The Agency which makes you think!Published on 8 Jan. 2014 by Mary A. Dearlove
I personally feel Sarah Hall has wrote this superb. Sarah has well constructed this novel by adding landscape to tell each short story which location the characters are. Read morePublished on 27 Aug. 2013 by ireadnovels