I enjoyed this very much. Lots of different characters and voices, most of them rather disturbing, all presented very skilfully. I loved the story of the woman in the basement, and the one about the little boy in the car. Excellent stuff.
Leading the Dance is a collection of short stories, bound together by the concept of secrets within everyday life. Sarah manges to write colourful characters, and fascinating tales, all presented within a few pages, something that I believe takes great writing skill.
Some of my personal highlights include a woman who has a portrait done of the contents of her fridge, which seems amusing, but deals with bulimia; a wife who secretly follows her husband's affair via his emails; a touching tale of two sisters and their loneliness; a boy who has been taught to ignore his mother's afternoon visitors; and especially the woman who locks another woman in her basement!
I can honestly say that not one tale within this collection disappointed, and I'm sure everyone will find their own personal favourite. Despite being very short, each one seems to have depth, and I will certainly be going back to read them again.
I very much enjoyed Sarah's voice, and the way she writes, and I will be actively hunting more of her work.
An excellent collection of short stories which has an eclectic mix of characters and subjects, linked by an underlying theme of secrets. Particularly enjoyable were 'Quiet Hour', 'The Woman Downstairs' and 'Jesus and the Aubergines'. The unusual writing style of 'Bodily Fluids' and 'A Lovely Evening' also made these two stories stand out from an interesting and enjoyable collection.
This selection of short stories from Sarah Salway focuses on the relationships of ordinary people, from siblings, parents and children, to lovers and friends. I was immediately struck by Salway's ability to cut right down to the uncompromising truth about her characters lives. In a succinct amount of prose the reader is forced to view the depth and complexity of human nature, particularly the absence of logic when emotion and decision making is brought into question. With unembarrassed honesty and almost poetic use of language Salway has created a collection of stories capable of making you gasp with recognition.
However, such brutality, even when beautifully portrayed can become hard to digest and I found my enjoyment of the book was tempered by my hope that the next story would contain a little more light, humour or optimism, that the skill describing isolation, selfishness and domination would also apply itself to genuine affection. Emptiness almost became a cliché that threatened to undercut the originality of the action.
If you are in the mood for heart warming tales this isn't for you but if you are prepared to remove the rose-tinted spectacles for a while, you will find much to admire and appreciate in Salway's collection of stories.
Sarah Salway's Leading the Dance weaves short stories into a book. The book has depth and it breathes. The stories combine and compliment. The characters are real. The narrative voices are refreshing, sharp, subtle and above all else convincing. They are stories that you don't want to end.
Leading the Dance is a collection of short stories that are laced with domesticity, yet they all have an edge that marks Salway's skill as a writer. I am left intrigued by the craft and the skill required building convincing worlds, narratives and characters within such limited space.
A bulimic who has the inside of her fridge painted, an affair that smells of pear drops, sexual suspicion leading to bondage, visions of Jesus blessing aubergines, the fragments of an affair through letters. There are more.
The stories are original, yet the characters have a familiarity that connects them to the reader. The reader is drawn into each world and forced to experience emotions through the lexical choices made.
Sarah Salway's writing has a delicacy that appears effortless and natural, yet each and every word is perfect. I absorbed each word. I last felt like this reading The PowerBook for the first time. And I know that I'll read Leading the Dance again.
For me: Sarah Salway injects fragility and grace into the art of storytelling.