Lost Upon the Roundabouts

A. L. Barker
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ISBN 9780571254040 Format Paperback
Published 17/09/2009 Length 254 pages

About Book

A. L. Barker's 1964 collection of short stories casts a glint of the most revealing light on the characters within - and makes them more real than the everyday people we meet.

So it is with the decaying actress Delie Rivers, 'vulgar in an eighteen carat way'; Caffery, the farmer turned businessman, who thinks his son 'about as vibrant as raw pastry'; Mrs Eagle, 'her wonderful lassitude', and 'her pale, lumpy legs like porridge'; Mrs Airey who is 'about as deep as an egg-spoon'.

Barker's imagination is acutely discerning as well as descriptive: the chief accountant who has retired after forty years of office routine; the wife who is not married to a dominating man, but who would like to be; the self-contained spinster career woman: what deceptions do they practise to conceal from themselves and others the fact that somehow they have been lost upon the roundabouts?

  • About A. L. Barker

    A. L. Barker (1918-2002) was a short story writer and novelist. Born in St Paul's Cray, Kent, she lived in the same milieu where London borders on Kent and Surrey, for the rest of her life. As her Oxford DNB entry says it was 'the chief setting for her work, which often seemed to partake of the quotidian mysteriousness and even abandonment of these areas.'

    Her first selection of short stories, Innocents, won the Somerset Maugham award in 1947. Of her short stories, Robert Nye has written, 'stories as carefully composed as poems, quiet and delicate and reserved perhaps, but oddly lingering in the mind.'

    Although a stranger to commercial success, she never wanted for admirers, Jane Gardam, Francis King, Auberon Waugh, Evelyn Waugh, Rebecca West, John Sutherland, Deborah Moggach, Ronald Blythe, Susan Hill, A. S. Byatt, Adam Mars-Jones, Nina Bawden and Victoria Glendinning being just some of them.

    A. L. Barker deserves to be better known. Faber Finds is proud to be reissuing her entire oeuvre, six volumes of short stories - Innocents, Novelette with Other Stories, Femina Real, Life Stories, No Words of Love and Element of Doubt - and thirteen novels - Apology for a Hero, A Case Examined, The Joy-Ride and After, Lost Upon the Roundabouts, The Middling, John Brown's Body, Source of Embarrassment, A Heavy Feather, Relative Successes, The Gooseboy, The Woman Who Talked to Herself, Zeph and The Haunt.

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