A. L. Kennedy's riveting new story collection is a luscious feast of language that encompasses real estate and forlorn pets, adolescents and 60-somethings, weekly liaisons and obsessive affairs, "certain types of threat and the odder edges of sweet things". The women and men in these 12 stories search for love, solace, and a clear glimpse of what their lives have become. Anything can set them off thinking - the sad homogeneity of hotel breakfasts, a sex shop operated under Canadian values (whatever those are), or an army of joggers dressed as Santa.
With her boundless empathy and gift for the perfect phrase, Kennedy makes us care about each of her characters. In "Takes You Home", a man's attempt to sell his flat becomes a journey to the interior, by turns comic and harrowing. And "Late in Life" deftly evokes an intergenerational love affair free of the usual clichés, the younger partner asking the older, "What should I wear at your funeral?"
Alive with memory, humor, and longing, All the Rage is A. L. Kennedy at her inimitable best.