Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Pocket Perfection

If you are ever looking for an escape from daily life, take half an hour out of your day, make a cup of tea, sit on a comfy chair and loose yourself in a delightful short story. I love the art and precision of a well crafted short story. Alice Munro, Tegan Bennet Daylight, Somerset Maugham and Raymond Carver are, in my view, the masters of this craft.

Anna Funder's The Girl with the Dogs (2015), released as a Penguin Special, is an 80 page novella. It is the story of a couple, Tess and Dan, who have reached a point in their relationship where they start to wonder about the choices they made and the roads not taken.

When Tess is sent to London for a conference, suddenly free of being a wife and mother, she retraces the steps of her former life.

This is a deceptive little book as it so full of taught, crisp observances of daily life - making sandwiches for children's lunches, caring for an elderly parent - that it makes for a compelling read. The story is also homage or reimagining of Chekhov's short story, The Lady with the Dog (1899), which I have not read so cannot explore in more detail.

Funder is a remarkable author. I fell in love with her writing in her non-fiction account of the East German secret police in Stasiland. Her debut novel, All That I Am, was lauded by critics and received the Miles Franklin Award for Literature, among other accolades. That she publishes so infrequently makes any release a must-read. So go make some tea, get comfy and immerse yourself in this novella.