PositiveTimes Literary Supplement (UK)The short fictions in Reality and Other Stories explore the scary sides of the internet, social media platforms, automation and artificial intelligence from a more playful perspective, treating digital lives and afterlives with dark comedy and a good dose of the supernatural ... Well-known for his powers of social observation, Lanchester alternates in this collection between the real, hyperreal and surreal ... The collection reimagines the known material world as immanently supernatural. An everyday object donated to a charity shop proves to possess malign powers; an unnamed labour-saving device turns out to be – well, that would be telling ... steeped in metaphysics, as the title itself makes clear. Our understanding of reality is toyed with from a classic epistemological perspective, but the author seems to enjoy himself more by applying it to electronic-age scenarios ... Not all of Lanchester’s narrative voices ring true, and there are one or two clunky devices and corny endings. But this is nevertheless a mind-bending collection about the multifaceted scariness of the way we live now.
Nancy Hale, Ed. by Lauren Groff
RaveThe Times Literary SupplementLike the poise and refinement of many of her female characters, Hale’s elegant, polished prose style and impeccable handling of pace and structure can be deceptive, for on the inside her stories are raw, honest and often uncomfortable. Everyone, she suggests, has a secret, be it illicit love, a private hatred, jealousy, dislike of one’s children, a hidden fear, or selfish pleasure ... Hale writes stirringly of the natural landscape, especially mountains, woods and seashores ... First-hand experience of the social scene in both the American Northeast and South is evident, too, in her explorations of clashes between class, taste and money...racial prejudice...and of misogyny and sexual double standards ... In the stealthily hard-hitting narratives selected for Where the Light Falls, we find haunting, chilling, sometimes uplifting illustrations of Hale’s ability to shine a light into obscure places ... Readers will find that her luminous stories observe Dickinson’s advice, \'Tell all the truth but tell it slant … The truth must dazzle gradually\'.