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on 12 October 2012
I often struggle with short stories. I really want to like them. I buy a book or read a review and get all excited, and then, somehow, they are just too easy to put down. I was fed up with having story collections clogging up my bedside table, making me feel guilty, so I'd not bought any in a while. Then I heard Jackie Kay on Radio 4's 'Teenage Diaries' programme and thought 'I must read something by this warm, funny, wonderful woman. Immediately.'
I'm not cured entirely, 'Reality' sat on my shelf for a few weeks, dipped into occasionally, but basically unloved. Then slowly, slowly, it started to pull me in. The voices are wonderful. With (I think) only one exception, these are intimate, first person accounts of women going about their lives, whether fantastical or mundane. Each character is noticably different, somehow very well-drawn, even although I feel the characterisation must happen when I'm looking the other way. Despite the differences, the warmth shines through in every story.
As well as warmth there is sadness and disappointment. Difficult issues such as dementia and people trafficking are dealt with just as powerfully (and perhaps more digestibly) as they would be in a novel. To paraphrase a review quote from the back cover, Kay does sentiment without sentimentality, and it's powerful stuff. There is also humour - flashes abound in even the darkest tales and 'Mini Me' is a comic delight. There is also a sprinkling of magic realism here. I found those stories slightly less engaging than the others, although that's probably just personal preference.
I know already that this writing will stay with me, which is always the hallmark of a good novel. How much more skillful to achieve that within twenty pages?
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on 15 June 2012
Reality, Reality I know this is probably early to review this book, but I download a lot of samples to my Kindle and was getting a little depressed at some of the dross recommended by radio, TV and newspapers, then suddenly there shone this diamond. So easy to read, really draws you in, has laugh out load moments and transfers those vaguely formed ideas to valid beliefs. A treasure that I intend to read a lot more of and I thoroughly recommend both this book and Jackie Kay.
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on 17 June 2017
ackie Kay does not need me to extol her works so that other people are persuaded to read them. But this book is really special in all kinds of ways. It is a series of short stories about women, some of which are linked to the short stories preceding them in this collection. They are extraordinary. There is something about them that captures the everyday lives of these women whether it is through the power of language, the choice of dialect or the sheer overpowering beauty of the stories.

I really do not need to say anything more. Just make sure that you read this book. It will enrich your life.
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on 7 August 2012
Having read these short stories a while ago they have remained in my thoughts, clever and interesting psychology. Especially related to the two set in the nursing home.
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VINE VOICEon 8 November 2016
This is a brilliant set of stories by a great poet and writer. Some are linked to others by character or theme; some stand alone.

Jackie Kay explores various realities of modern life with the stresses, strains and joys fully on display. Her writing has an accuracy of feeling that is hard to fault. My favourite was the rather creepy "The White Cot" which may be a ghost story or the chronicle of a breakdown.

There is probably a little more shade than light in this collection, so you do need to have a positive frame of mind when reading, but, as ever, Jackie Kay has so much to offer.
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on 9 June 2014
This is a great book for a holiday - the stories are long enough to grab your interest but not so long you feel you're reading a big tome. Jackie Kay's style is a joy to read - not many authors would write a story set in a nursing home - from the resident's view, and with such poignant insight and pathos. I hope your pen never runs out of ink.
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on 26 October 2015
First Class. Do yourself a favour and curl up with this wonderful book. You won't regret it.
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on 28 December 2015
not really my kind of book
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