Paperback 6" x 9" 269 pages
Alan Dent is a poet, critic, novelist, translator and editor. He has
published five collections of poetry and translated the same number
from French. His comic picaresque A Small Taste of Freedom appeared
in 2019. A new story collection, Palestinian Tales, is due in 2021.
This is volume three of his eight-volume roman fleuve The
Some critical comments on Kadison's
earlier short story collections
In its readiness to listen in on the speech
of a wide variety of ordinary, working people, and to give us
insights into the texture of their daily lives, S. Kadison's writing
is not merely unfashionable, it is like very little that is
currently being written (or anyway published.) It does however
remind me of that fine, scandalously neglected American writer,
Nelson Algren. Like Algren, Kadison's socialism, while never
reductive, is integral to his vision of what life is and what it
could be. And like Algren, he makes satisfying stories out of what
happens to happen to the kind of people whose existence, when it's
noticed at all, is for the most part caricatured or sentimentalized.
In other words, Kadison testifies to the value of Camus's claim that
art is nobody's enemy, because it opens the prisons and gives voice
to the sorrows and joys of all.
You don't need to travel far to find a story.
They're all around you if you keep your eyes and ears open, which is
what a good writer does. A man comes home from the army, meets the
miseries of post-war Britain, gets a job as a salesman, prospers,
marries, opens his own shop, and then loses everything when he takes
a fancy to one of his assistants. A teacher with high ideals has
them challenged by disruptive pupils. Someone with early ambitions
to be an artist is pushed into a mundane job and a joyless marriage.
And a report in a local newspaper about the death of a woman causes
a man to reflect on their one meeting when they were teenagers, and
the fact that he'd never forgotten her. Everyday stories in ordinary
settings. S.Kadison tells them directly in a way that shows a real
concern for people and their problems.
These stories put
me in mind of Gissing and Richard Yates – who in their very
different centuries and countries mercilessly exposed the threadbare
materialistic dreams of the middle classes. Neither of those
admirable writers was hugely popular, nor ever, in the glib sense,
populist, but both were true and powerful storytellers.
Kadison too is a disabused social critic, moralist and analyst of
human nature, someone who castigates snobbery and hypocrisy with
sardonic often heart-rending honesty. Kadison shares their bitter
sense of humour and keen sympathy for all failures and misfits -
anyone trapped by blighted relationships and thwarted ambitions.
distinctive voice is overdue for discovery and strikes a highly
relevant if unsettling chord in the genteel jungle of contemporary