Loggerheads and Other Stories
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Jonathan Coe is not a prolific writer of short stories - the seven in this collection make up his entire output (as against ten published novels) - but each one is a jewel of storytelling and characterization. And each could only have come from the pen of the novelist Coe. In fact at least three of the stories here, though self-contained, are part of a larger project to depict the history of a fictional Midlands family, a project which includes the novels The Rain Before It Falls and Expo 58. Loggerheads is therefore essential reading for all fans of Coe.
time before I rose to the bait; and so when at last she said to me, flatly, ‘I can see you don’t believe a word of this,’ I heard myself replying: ‘Of course I do. Of course. Don’t forget that something similar happened to me once, after all.’ She smiled, and her eyes gleamed with satisfaction. ‘Oh, come on – you’re not going to bring out that old story again, are you?’ ‘It happened. I didn’t imagine it.’ ‘But you were tiny. We were both just little kids. And you were half asleep at the
time.’ I dropped the subject, having no serious desire to submit my memories to her mischievous scrutiny yet again. But after lunch, as I drove, alone, back up the hill to my parents’ house, I felt myself once more surrendering to recollection. I remembered the weekly visits we used to pay to Shropshire as children: the summer holidays, with their morning fishing trips and long afternoons sitting alone in the dining room, reading books and listening to the slow tick of the grandfather clock. I
headmistress, which went on for about twenty minutes, and a speech from an old girl, which went on for even longer. This sort of thing is traditional in these quarters, I suspect. Jennifer and I were seated towards the front of the assembly hall. Amy and her classmates were just a few rows ahead of us. When the speeches were over, at last, they were called up on to the stage, and they had to sing a song for the parents. I don’t remember anything about the song itself; I only remember watching my
that my mother was happy again. It was 1967, and ‘London had become too much for her,’ as Dad put it, trying to explain to us – or rather to Joseph, since he was the one who objected most strongly – why we had been obliged to relocate. And such a bruising, brutal relocation, too! From swinging London (not that I’d seen much of that, at my private girls’ school in Pinner) to suburban Saskatoon. From a country in the throes of a social and cultural revolution to a country too well off, well
all,’ said Pascale. ‘I can assure you that your film scores are very well known in France. They are very popular. It’s just that – I don’t know …’ She shook her head, and stared ruefully into space. ‘They are so unreliable, these people. They say one thing and they mean another.’ ‘I’d enjoy talking to you,’ said William, after a pause, ‘whether you were going to write about me or not.’ Pascale turned. For a moment he was convinced that the remark had sounded too crass, too forward. Her eyes