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Realness, quirky characters and subtle humour,
This review is from: Tenterhooks (Paperback)
I love this collection of stories for their realness, quirky characters and subtle humour but mostly for how they make me think about time. Dunn is my contemporary and her writing legitimises and confirms for me the power of using seemingly mundane recollections that the reader can relate to or even have their own memories triggered by. Hearing the news of Elvis's death but only having a vague idea of who he was. A character that is convinced that she can triumph in the Win-a-Pony competition, something I had not thought of for years.
Dunn's skilful use of description can pull me up, compelling me to reread lines like `the snapping of the dry folded wings from cricket-green pistachios', poetic depiction of a friend's mother as `bustly, busty, fussy, fond of pleats' and John Peel's voice as `oddly both doleful and cheerful.' Reading these make me want to revisit my own stories and write better descriptions.
Many of these stories are from the viewpoint of a narrator looking back on her early teenaged years. `Stood Up and thinking of England', in particular, reminds me of seeing how another family functions and revelling in the difference and novelty of that. It vividly portrays that feeling of being at an age when you can almost break away from your family but for now you are still controlled by them. That time of waiting for something to happen and not knowing what that something is.
There is an unforgettable passage in `Slipping the Clutch'. The main character is grieving for Robbie, who has died in a car crash. She has a theory that if she can travel far enough into space `from the correct distance, with the appropriate telescope, I could see into the past and find him. This stood to reason.' Later in the story, she sees him again. It seems so casual and real, meeting someone you thought was irrevocably lost, in Boots while buying throat pastilles. It is as if this could happen and it makes me believe that time can't prevent us from seeing lost loved ones again.