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Dangerous Pleasures: A Decade of Stories Paperback – 5 Jun 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New Ed edition (5 Jun. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006547699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006547693
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 155,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

‘Nattily subversive, sexually ambiguous, intelligent and disturbing. The prose sizzles with acidic observation.’ Sunday Times

‘Not one of these eleven stories is a dud. All of them are concerned with the fallout that occurs when soft-focussing fantasy collides with hard-nosed reality. The lingering after-effects “lie on the sweeter side of bleak”. Witty, moving and very much alive.’ Time Out

‘Gale has long been a master of short fiction. So it comes as no surprise to find that his first collection of stories shows him to be an adept of the art … the form utilises all his strengths of acute observation, gentle wit and humane acceptance of human diversity … Wit and wisdom, metaphor and moment constantly combine to delight.’ The Times

‘Patrick Gale revels in absurd risks. It’s the promise of an unexpected, and potentially implausible outcome that entices you into his stories. The prose sizzles with acidic observations.’ Independent on Sunday

‘Gale is a master of character, and he slips under the skins of his women protagonists with such wit that it’s often hard to believe he’s a man. From the misplaced passions of a jilted writer these fresh, clear-headed stories are reminiscent of Gale’s back catalogue of acclaimed novels.’ Elle

‘Gale pins down the pain of love and leaving and the no-man’s-land between the apparently real and the illusory. He writes of uncertain memories and threatened loyalties and, in Dressing Up In Voices, of a couple whose passionate, inevitable break-up is traced with unrelenting accuracy.’ Scotland on Sunday

From the Back Cover

Curious childhood loyalties, long-hidden memories, newly discovered joys, startling secrets, dislocated relationships, overwhelming, thrilling passions. In prose which is vivid and fresh, Patrick Gale explores the subtle boundaries that shift between the fantastic and shockingly real. With characteristic insight and wit and with consummate ease, he draws the reader into lives both familiar and strange, revealing a world that shines with possibilities and will never fail to delight.

"The stories deal with revelation, with what people can become given the right set of circumstances and with the danger that comes with change. Sparky stuff."
SUNDAY EXPRESS

"Delightful… the collection includes a Barbara Pym-ish skit about the denizens of a cathedral close, a cautionary tale of a bad tempered girl who gets locked in a wardrobe, and the story of a long-suffering wife who decides its her turn to receive oral sex."
INDEPENDENT

He excels at capturing emotion and deals poignantly with universal themes of love, loss and embarrassment."
DAILY TELEGRAPH

"Wit and wisdom, metaphor and moment constantly combine to delight."
THE TIMES

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As usual Patrick Gale provides you with a jolly good read.
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Format: Paperback
I am a fan of Patrick's work and I also like short stories on occasion. Rather than review each story I'll give you an overview as you will, after all be buying the whole collection.

This collection is pretty varied, some that have an almost Stephen King-ness about them with unexpected gothic twists ('Wig', 'Wheee!', 'A Slight Chill'), some include great descriptive prose that really conjure up the mood of the characters and their surroundings ('Borneo', 'Old Boys'), some seem like the start of something the could have been bigger ('Choking, 'Old Boys').

The stand outs are 'Borneo' a subtle tail of coffee mornings and feelings, 'Wheee!' not how you expect a funeral party to end and 'Choking' because of its humour, unpredictable turn and complexity of how different relationships cause us to lie.

There was only one that really didn't work for me which was 'Dangerous Pleasures' itself which started with parents witnessing their daughter dying of an AIDS related illness and then went to take, what I felt was an entirely unrealistic and inappropriate (if not predictable) turn.

If you like short stories that will stay in your mind after you have finished them and leave you with a wondering feeling then this is a great collection for you. Patrick's fans would not be disappointed either.
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Format: Paperback
The title story of this collection begins with a sober, realistic scene in a hospital where a young woman named Shuna is taking her final few breaths while her parents watch over her. After Shuna 's death, the mother must figure out what to do with this estranged daughter's belongings. Where the story ends is somewhere so unexpected and surprising I had to read it twice to make sure I got it right. This is the power of the stories in this book. Gale's talent is to take the physical world with its recognizable characters functioning within ordinary relationships and expose the wilful human emotion that flows riotously beneath all those social niceties. The result is that the every-dayness of their lives is distorted, transformed and irrevocably altered. These characters' desires don't simply occasionally spring up from some hidden corner of consciousness; the world is shown to be composed of nothing but desires. When the characters decide to claim their pleasure at the expense of others there are often causalities such as the breakup of a marriage or a body on the floor.

The stories include an impressive variety of perspectives ranging from a young girl to a nostalgic father to a recent widow. In the story `The Wig' a housewife undergoes a personality change when she alters her appearance. It reveals a side to herself that is unwilling to tolerate the way her former self was treated by those closest to her. The story `Paint' depicts a man named Andrew's tense visit with his father which is interrupted by a trip to meet an eccentric brother/sister team of artists. Andrew's attempts to strengthen the delicate father/son relationship are thwarted by his father having a spontaneous affair. Some of the stories also vary greatly in style.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book having read Gale's more recent collection of short stories, 'Gentleman's Relish', and, having enjoyed that, saw this and decided it was a must. This book is from an earlier stage in Gale's career, and with this the writing is slightly more experimental, and deeply sexual in content. At least half, if not more, of the stories having sexual undertones. Some people may admire his boldness, as did I, but it is perhaps not to everyone's taste.

The only story I considered a 'dud' was the last, 'Dangerous Pleasures' itself. It is a rather absurd storyline and entirely unrealistic.

Otherwise, I found them thought-provoking and enjoyable - although not as memorable as 'Gentleman's Relish'. The 'short story' genre keeps the reader engaged, whilst the recurring themes of the dialectic between the lucid and realist world we know (and can connect with) and a nectar-fueled idealism create a form to the entire collection.

Recommended.
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This nearly got five stars. I could not work out how to give it 4.5 stars. Of all the Patrick Gale books which we have, this 'Dangerous Pleasures' volume is our preferred book of his short stories. It could be the perfect introduction to Patrick Gale's writing, in its style and lucidity. But I would prefer to steer you towards 'Notes from an Exhibition' or 'The Cat Sanctuary' so that you could see how Gale develops characters which is not possible within the limitations of short stories. It's a great shop window for a writer who deserves more recognition
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Cute stories, some enigmatic endings. Enjoyable slices of life, some descriptions a little mundane,however. But worth reading.
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