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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?
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