Kate Sutherland, All in Together Girls (2007)

This is one of those books I’d never have heard of, bought or read if blogs didn’t exist. When Kate’s book was published last year there was a large virtual applause from all those who regularly read Kate’s book blog. I was already familiar with some of the stories because she linked to one (Aerial view of a dinner party) and read another aloud (The story of her life) for Christmas. These 2 stories really made me want to read all the others, and I wasn’t disappointed!

 

Having interactions with someone through blogs is definitely not like knowing someone in real life, but as I read All in together girls, I immediately recognized Kate’s voice and perceptiveness. Her characters are deeply believable and likeable, often insecure young women who struggle with choices, peer pressure, love or friendship disappointments and treasons. I especially liked the mother / daughter interactions in “The story of her Life”, “Outside the Frame” and “Tales from the Peeble’s Hydro”. That one is my favorite, I guess, because it also delicately evokes the Scottish immigrants in Canada and how a daughter can see her mother with different eyes as both grow older. One story I found weaker was “The Necklace” because the character was so passive and depressed. But in every story, emotions and actions are skillfully tied together, I really wish I could write something so clear and deceptively simple.

 

This book definitely put me in the mood for more short stories. At the library, after a big mess-up on my reservation of “Who killed Roger Ackroyd” (I’ll probably get the book after the baby will be born!), I found a collection by Hungarian-German short story writer Zsuzsa Bank (un-translated in English I think). I’m looking forward to new discoveries in contemporary short stories, feel free to send me suggestions!

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2 thoughts on “Kate Sutherland, All in Together Girls (2007)

  1. I loved Kate’s collection, and am so glad you did too. As for contemporary short story writers, well, given your condition you should try Helen Simpson’s Four Bare Legs In A Bed. She writes a lot about motherhood and birth and I think she’s wonderful. And there’s always the inventive and talented Ali Smith.

  2. I really liked this collection, too. I think I could relate since the stories were set in the 80s (most of them it seemed), which is when I grew up. They seemed so familiar. You might try Zoran Zivkovic’s collection of stories Steps Through the Mist. It’s a slim little volume of stories made up of “what ifs…”. The author is Serbian. I’ve been into short stories, too, lately, but I seem to pick and choose at random mostly.

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