The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac: A masterclass by a major talent

Louise Kennedy shows extraordinary deftness in this collection of unforgettable stories

Louise Kennedy: A major talent

Louise Kennedy: A major talent

Is any reading experience more powerful than a brilliantly orchestrated set of fine short stories? Not just the individual pieces but also the interplay of thematic rhymes, chimes, resonances and inversions, some planned by the author, others perhaps accidental, many not quite accidents but symmetries stirred by fate or the reader’s own experience?

In the novel, as in all storytelling, every sentence needs to count, but there are moments, brief paragraphs, when the novelist can loosen the rhythm, ostensibly in the name of texture or style (although the reader may appreciate a breather, too). There is nowhere in the short story for the author to hide since its crannies and shadows are often where the story is coming from. As Flannery O’Connor remarked, in good fiction “two plus two always equals more than four”. Much is in what’s not being said.

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