July Book of the Month: Tea at the Midland by David Constantine

Posted: July 23, 2013 in Books of the Month, Other Writing by AJ Kirby

TeaattheMidlandcoverMy book of the month for July is Tea at the Midland and Other Stories, a powerful short fiction collection from the masterful David Constantine (why is it I keep nearly writing Paddy Considine here?).

You can read my full review of the book on The Short Review website here: http://thenewshortreview.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/review-of-tea-at-the-midland-by-david-constantine/

And here is a brief excerpt:

“‘I like being slant on to habitual lives, he says, I like walking through a town when people are going out to work, I like walking on their streets, and out. That pace of change is right, no faster than a man can walk, then truly the eyes and the mind and the heart will take things in. Why should you hurry even through ugliness? You should come among beauties very gradually. That is why I like climbing rivers at their vilest, to see where they began.’

The above quotation, from the story Romantic, the final piece in David Constantine’s resolutely excellent collection Tea at the Midland: and Other Stories, recalls the work of another famous Salfordian LS Lowry and his ‘slant-on’ views of the industrial north with its ‘matchstick men’ and ugly, primitive chimneys. Like Lowry, Constantine is an artist whose work is instantly, disarmingly accessible. On face value the stories in this collection – in which the stories hang so well together they might have been carefully selected by some master curator – are simple and engaging. The writing is stripped-back, the paragraphs economical. The sentences are sometimes stark. Not a word is wasted.”

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